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The Contract

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The Contract

Chapter 1

To say Harry had been overwhelmed would be putting it lightly, as he walked with Hagrid towards Gringotts. He had an answer to everything that had plagued him for so long. Why he was able to do the things he did, what really happened to his parents, and why everyone was so nice towards him and more importantly why everyone was looking at him, watching him as if he was some sort of messiah. After spending his entire life ignored it was a bit much for him to take.

He liked the goblins, they weren’t treating him any differently to any other Wizard. Now wasn’t that weird to say? He was a wizard! He was going to a school to learn how to use magic. Zeroing in on Hagrid whispering – or attempting to – about something secret in a vault he was to pick up for Dumbledore. ‘You-Know-What in vault You-Know-Which’ if it was such a secret why collect it with so many people in the bank? Why not go to a room and ask the goblin there?

There were plenty rooms, Harry observed as they wandered towards the cart. He had to smother his amusement at how green Hagrid went when they went for the ride. Personally, Harry found it thrilling to say the least. As they barrelled along underground vaults, at a speed that was faster than most cars went. It had to be under London…way lower than even the train stations. How had nobody managed to find it? It had to be protected by magic.

Another thing he quickly realized, that his Aunt Petunia had to be lying about his parents being unemployed. Otherwise how did they have so much money to give to him if that was the case? Although, after mentally calculating it all, along with what they said he’d need, he realized there wouldn’t be a massive pile left over after Hogwarts. It was more than he had before so he couldn’t complain. Scooping up what had been recommended to him, Harry returned to the cart and on they went.

He feared that the hatred Vernon and Petunia had wouldn’t extent to his money. Could he even try to stop them he wondered?

Just as they were about to leave, a goblin spoke up, “Mr. Potter, your account manager, Trerx would like a moment of your time.”

“We have to go, I gotta get Harry his things for school,” Hagrid said immediately, almost as if he had anticipated the question.

Harry looked up at the gigantic wizard, observing the beady black eyes filled with anxiety. If he didn’t know any better, he would say Hagrid was worried. Why would he be worried about him speaking to his ‘account manager?’ which surprised him, didn’t they cost money.

“As I said, just a moment of Mr. Potter’s time,” Bofze replied, unperturbedly staring up at Hagrid without any emotion showing on his face.

“Come on, Harry, let’s go get yer things,” Hagrid insisted trying to guide Harry out of the bank. Albus had asked him to make sure the goblins didn’t overwhelm Harry with their legal jargon so young. That he would tell Harry at a pace that was more suited for his young mind. The order had come from Albus, so of course, Hagrid was going to do his level best to see it through.

“I’d like to talk to him,” Harry insisted, refusing to be directed out of the bank. He wanted to make sure that his Aunt and Uncle – how he loathed calling them that given how they treat him – couldn’t touch his money.

Hagrid stopped, staring at Harry with an almost dumb look on his face, “It’s nothin’ yeh need to worry about, Harry,” Harry was just about to nod when Hagrid added, “Albus Dumbledore will tell yeh everything you need to know.” Now that raised flags, he didn’t know much, but what he did know was that Albus Dumbledore was the Headmaster of Hogwarts, why would his Headmaster have to tell him anything? Why would he even know about his finances? He was so confused.

“That’s okay, I’d like to ask…Trerx a few questions anyway,” Harry said, which was true enough.

“Are yah sure, Harry?” Hagrid asked again, looking very stuck, he wasn’t good with confrontation. He wanted to do what Albus asked of him, but he couldn’t exactly drag Harry out of Gringotts or demand he leave, it wasn’t in his nature.

“Yes, I’m sure,” Harry replied with a bit more backbone, he had so many unanswered questions, he wasn’t going to leave without having them answered. Hagrid seemed reluctant to tell him anything, he’d had to coax out what happened to his parents for Merlin’s sake. The goblins seemed more straightforward, and Harry suspected they’d tell him exactly what he wanted to know. And the fact Hagrid and Dumbledore were trying to hide things from him didn’t endear them to him at all.

“Follow me,” the goblin grunted out, turning back towards where they had just been. Instead of heading towards the carts, they made their way towards the rooms, upon opening it he realized they were conference rooms of sorts. “Trerx will be here momentarily,”

Harry nodded as he looked around the room, the gleaming marble walls, filled with a whole paraphernalia of items. Most of them were weapons, like daggers, swords, spears, clubs and what he assumed was wands. A few were encased in glass, and on stands in corners of the rooms. There was a large gleaming white table that would and could fit up to over a dozen people with chairs split equally around it. At the front of the room was a single table, with only one chair behind it. Harry wasn’t sure where to sit, so he simply stood, observing everything in the room with keen eyes. Mesmerised by the fact that goblins actually existed and had vaults tunnelled all over London.

“Good morning, Mr. Potter,” said the goblin, entering the office, flicking the door closed with a click of its fingers, “My name is Trerx, I am the account manager for the Potter vaults,”

“Vaults as in more than one?” Harry asked, green eyes gleaming, already getting more information than he had.

Trerx paused, before walking hastily towards the desk, placing upon the table a large folder. “Yes, for you when you take on the mantle of Lord Potter, an inherited title from your father, and grandfather before him.”

“Lord Potter?” Harry repeated blankly, it was a good job he’d insisted on getting answers.

Trerx grunted, giving Harry a look that stipulated he thought him completely stupid. He was not going to repeat himself all morning. “Take a seat, Mr. Potter, while I explain some things to you,” he said eventually, after reading from the files in front of him.

Harry nervously did so, taking a seat opposite the goblin trying to stop his nerves getting the better of him.

“Your guardians are Vernon and Petunia Dursley of Number four Privet Drive is this information correct?”

“Yes,” Harry said, grimacing.

“Your magical guardian is one Albus Dumbledore is this information also correct?”

Harry swallowed thickly, “I don’t know…I just…I thought he was the Headmaster at Hogwarts…”

“You haven’t met him?” Trerx asked, his teeth showing ferally, extremely angry over this information.

“No, Sir, not that I remember,” Harry said glancing at the floor worriedly. “I…what is a magical guardian meant to do?”

“Do you know nothing of the world in which you were born to Mr. Potter?” Trerx asked incredulously.

“I didn’t know anything, Sir, I still don’t. I only found out yesterday. My uncle tried to stop me reading my letter or letting me attend. Hagrid brought me here so that I could get my school things.” Harry explained entirely subdued.

“He took you without the consent of your guardians?” Trerx asked, then again, all things pertaining to the magical world was down to Albus Dumbledore. He was not liking what he was hearing at all.

Harry’s head jerked up, “I want to attend Hogwarts!” he said, his voice strangled, realizing he had put his foot in his mouth. “I…please, Sir,” he whispered desperation flowing through him at the realisation that everything could be stolen away before he even got to experience it.

“Calm yourself, Mr. Potter,” Trerx replied, somehow not sounding quite so vicious as he had moments earlier. “It seems that Albus Dumbledore was remiss in his duties as your magical guardian. He has told you nothing of your rightful world, you should have come here knowing exactly what to expect. It is the duties and responsibilities of all Magical Guardians.”

“Can I…stop it? Stop Dumbledore from being my magical guardian?” Harry asked, licking his dry lips, “Maybe get someone else to help me?” finding himself quite angry that someone could have told him everything about himself, his family, and seen how he was living and that someone had done nothing. All the abuse he’d suffered…it could have been prevented. He could have come here, to live in the magical world.

“There is one way,” Trerx informed him, “If you can prove you are capable of looking after yourself you can become emancipated. Which would give you the title of Lord Potter seven years early, but you’d be able to access the entirety of your estate.”

“How do I prove that?” Harry asked, his mind reeling. “And what does it mean being given access to my estate?”

“By proving you can live on your own without a guardian, both your Aunt and Uncle as well as your magical guardian.” Trerx informed him, this meeting was going on longer than anticipated. “Which I’m afraid is definitely not something that can be done, you know nothing of the magical world, it would hinder your emancipation request. Which had to be done through the Ministry of magic. Unfortunately, your magical guardian holds considerably sway there and would ultimately prevent your emancipation going through.”

“But he failed as a magical guardian!” Harry protested, finding himself indignant over what he was hearing.

“That he did, but you must understand he holds a lot of power within the Ministry of magic.” the goblin warned him. “A great deal of that power comes from being your magical guardian. Even becoming emancipated early wouldn’t stop that power, not until you are fifteen years old and legally able to claim your seats.”

“Seats?” Harry whispered utterly bewildered.

“Even if you studied and read everything you could get your hands on…there is no way they’d give you emancipation, Mr. Potter.” The goblin warned him, they could do a lot of things, but this wasn’t one of them. “I am sorry,” and he actually genuinely meant that, which was a first. Most wizarding families he dealt with were quite rude and demanding and he felt nothing for them. For Harry though he did indeed feel sorry.

“What if I tell them I was abused?” Harry whispered, saying the word as though it was something degrading and demeaning. Everyone else he had told didn’t believe him, so quite honestly…he didn’t think much would come of this conversation.

Trerx’s eyes flashed furiously black at the mere mention of the word, “And would that be the truth, Mr. Potter?” eyeing the wizard, trying to gauge his truthfulness. His clothes did suggest they did neglect him though, the income the Dursley’s got was in front of him along with the money Dumbledore give them as a stipend for Harry’s care should be enough so he got clothes that fit him and food. Food they clearly did not give him judging by how bony he was. while he couldn’t see what was under the clothes, his neck, face and hands were all far too thin for a growing eleven-year-old boy. Now that he was looking, he began to suspect that the boy was telling the truth.

Harry merely nodded once, a single time. “Yes,” he added as if the nod hadn’t been confirmation enough.

Trerx’s mind began to calculate every single step he could take in order to help Harry’s situation. Each one was nixed inevitably as it either backfired or Dumbledore gained the upper hand. He had too tight a reign on the Ministry of Magic. Then he remembered, Harry’s grandmother was Dorea Black. Yet he hadn’t come across any information within the Potter file.

Clicking his fingers quickly, bringing everything remotely related to Dorea Black in front of him. Her information should have been part of the Potter files, why it wasn’t was a mystery to him. He would need to find the goblin manager in charge of the accounts back then. Silently cursing the bad filing, with pursed lips, almost forgetting Harry was there due to his unnatural silence.

That’s when he noticed it.

The contact.

A betrothal contract between a Lestrange and Potter, still incomplete written by Corvus Lestrange and Dorea Black-Potter before they were even parents. Corvus Lestrange was still alive, but Dorea was gone. The next Lestranges Rodolphus and Rabastan were imprisoned in Azkaban, one already married. The brothers had not even a single heir amongst them, and Harry Potter was the last Potter alive today.

It would not do.

Unless…well, he would research everything he could until he had an answer.

“Give me a few days to find a loophole or information that might help you, Mr. Potter. We shouldn’t keep Mr. Hagrid waiting any longer, not without rousing Dumbledore’s suspicion I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not already here. Have care what you say to him, despite his gentle demeanour he’s a powerful wizard and there is a reason he defeated the Dark Lord Grindelwald.” The goblin informed him as he scribbled information down in front of him. “In the meantime, get these books, they will help you understand the magical world better.” It was just beginner information, but it was better than nothing.

“And you’ll get in touch?” Harry asked, not taking the goblins word on Dumbledore’s character to heart. He would see for himself, so far two people had very different views on him. “By Owl?” assuming that was the case.

“That is correct, Mr. Potter, and if we don’t hear from you, we will come regardless.” Trerx revealed seriously, the contract was something to fall back on if it comes to it. It probably wasn’t something Harry wanted anyway, so he would only suggest it as a last resort.

Which would be met with strong denials regardless.

“Thank you Trerx,” Harry murmured, accepting the piece of paper, placing it in his pocket and patting it absently. Able to pronounce the goblin’s name properly, no easy feat, especially for humans.

“Be well, Mr. Potter,” the goblin said, already making mental notes to cancel his three appointments today, only keeping one which was scheduled with the goblin king. He was going to do his best to help the boy, even if its only to get him out of the Dursley’s grasp.

But his eyes trailed towards the contract yet again, and he knew, he knew, that this was going to be the only way. Well, at least he could say in a few days he’d done best by his client, nobody can ask any more of him than that.

With that Harry silently exited the room feeling quite numb with everything he’d learned. He felt nothing regarding Dumbledore, no betrayal, no anger, just numbness.

His excitement was renewed as he gathered everything he needed for Hogwarts with Hagrid. Including a beautiful white owl he soon named Hedwig, the name he found within the confines of his new shiny school books. Regretfully, Vernon locked them away before Harry could really begin reading everything and everything he could get his hands on.

At least he wasn’t being squashed into his cupboard anymore, instead he was in Dudley’s second bedroom. Sure it was filled with junk, broken furniture and a bed that springs dug into his back…but it was still a room. It was more than he was used to and better than he had in the past.

Two Days Later

It all felt like a wonderful dream he’d had, and he would have definitely thought it if not for the room he currently woke up in. It was now day three. He ached like blazes though, Petunia had smacked the side of his head with the frying pan again, which left him with a blazing sore head. Vernon had taken his mood out on him dragging him up the stairs moments after he got back, somehow managing to shove him into every movable and immovable object possible before throwing him inside the room. Furious for having to go to the cabin in the middle of the sea and having to find a way to get back without the boat. As always everything was his fault. Then there was Dudley, man, while doing his chores – which had doubled in twenty-four hours – Dudley and his friends and ensured he regretted the fact Hagrid had come. Not to forget the pig tail. Which by the way he still found hilarious, definitely worth the pounding of his flesh.

The good thing was, he was no longer numb, he’d been stewing on everything he’d learned for two days now. With nothing but chores to do, his mind wandered. He had so many questions and no answers. Why had Dumbledore not come to visit him? Why hadn’t he informed him of the magical world and everything he should have done as a magical guardian? Why give him to the Dursley’s in the first place? He needed to know the laws, but if he was his magical guardian it must mean his parents had wanted it that way? His parents who had died for him and not in a car crash as he’d been told for ten years.

If Trerx came through, he’d know the answer to these questions.

And hopefully soon.

---------0

So, will Harry sneakily get away from the Dursley’s without Dumbledore knowing until it was too late when the wards break due to lack of ‘place to call home’ with Harry playing by the Dumbledore’s golden boy rules until it’s time where he can get away or will we have him remaining studious and alert refusing to play along? Which house will I have him in this time? Gryffindor (with the offer of Slytherin like in the original), Slytherin or Ravenclaw? Who can you see Harry ending up with (as a guardian)? Corvus Lestrange? Or a distant relation of Corvus Lestrange since he was ‘unreachable?’ one who is neutral in the war? Giving Harry a place to stay? Will Harry be desperate enough that he agrees with the contract to be engaged ‘not married’ to Rabastan? Only for it to come back and bite him in the ass or will it be the best thing that ever happened to him? Read and Review please

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 2

The goblins not only sent an Owl to him, but he learned as he read the missive that there was another means of magical transportation. Apparently it was called Portkey, and it was five o’clock in the morning, they evidently didn’t sleep. The Dursley’s wouldn’t be up for at least two more hours. Hopefully that would be long enough for him to get his answers. He had no idea what would happen afterwards, if he would have to come back here or not. Biting his lip as anticipation mixed with worry, he hastily got dressed in his best clothes, best being the least big and ruined. How Dudley managed to get holes in his clothes Harry had no idea. He didn’t do anything, all he did was sit around pigging out or playing video games.

“Trerx,” Harry murmured, and the letter glowed very briefly before Harry felt a tugging at his naval as he was yanked. Harry literally felt like he had been yanked out of his body before being slammed back into it. Embarrassingly he fell immediately upon landing. Grunting, he scrambled to his feet, his cheeks flaring red as he observed two goblins in the room.

“Good morning, Trerx,” Harry said, “Griphook,” remembering both of them well enough, Griphook had taken him to his vault just days before. He’d also been the one to tell him what happened to anyone who tried to break in.

“Good morning, Mr. Potter, my apologies for the long wait,” Trerx stated, giving no excuse for the wait he’d had to endure. Not that it was a secret, unfortunately, the news was splashed all over the papers. Gringotts had been broken into the very day Harry had come, but he knew it was nothing to do with the teen. No, it was all because of the blasted stone which had been entrusted to them merely a week ago after being delivered from Paris, France. Nicolas Flamel was entrusting it to Dumbledore apparently, bad idea that, frankly he would be surprised if Nicolas ever saw it again, Dumbledore was up to something.

“It’s okay,” Harry replied, his tone demure, quite honestly, he hadn’t expected to really hear from them. He was just so used to being let down by everyone around him. Called a liar or just being made out to be one, he’d all but given up on anyone actually keeping their word. The fact he had, endeared him further towards the goblins. Stretching down, he plucked the letter from the floor and slid it into his pocket.

“Take a seat,” Trerx said, and both goblins took a seat on the large ornate desk.

Harry noticed right away, that this was a different room from before. It was small, warm and cosy, evidently an office of sorts judging by the silver metal file containers that lined the room. Once again though, they had dozens upon dozens of weapons affixed to the walls. The fireplace was roaring cheerfully, and Harry’s stomach growled loudly when he spotted the food on the table along with files that he saw had ‘Potter’ on them in a perfect elegant scrawl. Not that he paid much attention, most of his was on the food, unobtrusively he thought, but the Goblins were paying considerably close attention to him. So, of course, they noticed.

Shaking it off, he slid into the seat, which was nicely padded and even felt warm too. Completely different from the sterile environment he had sat through the last time. He wondered if this was one of their offices, it would make sense for it to be. “Did you find a way?”

“Griphook and I looked through everything conceivable, normally we would tell you to find that out yourself and not to just trust us.” Trerx informed him seriously, “Wizards have a propensity to trust everything they are told and not double check the findings.” Griphook snorted in obvious agreement.

Harry stared at them in barefaced disbelief, not buying it for a second.

“Not all, just the majority,” Griphook admitted with a grunt, it was quite disgusting to see them signing documents just because they told them what they said without fact checking everything. They drummed it into their customers to never sign anything without first signing it yourself.

Harry nodded, “So, what way did you find?” wondering if he was going to like this or not, he did feel a little alarmed at the grim looks of determination on their faces.

“There are two ways in which this can be handled, Mr. Potter,” Trerx informed him, sitting forward a little. “We can gather the evidence of abuse you’ve suffered from the Dursleys and go to the Ministry with it. Understand this, not only what you went through would be splashed across the papers, there’s no guarantee it would get you out from your magical guardians control. He ultimately has the last say where you would go, and since he hasn’t seen you, he cannot be charged alongside of the Dursleys,”

Harry grimaced, in other words he could be put in a worse situation or barely better than the Dursley’s. Clearly Dumbledore only cared about what sort of power he could get from the Ministry of magic from him. Not giving a shit about him as a baby or a boy. “And the other?” quite frankly he wasn’t holding out much hope at all.

“That…will require a lot of explaining,” Trerx said, and since the boy knew nothing, it truly would. He couldn’t blame him either, from what they’d dug up on his school grades the boy was smart at least. He should pick up the information quickly enough. “Did you read through the books I suggested you buy?”

Harry’s cheeks warmed yet again, shaking his head, seeing the look of annoyance on the goblins face, he hastened, “My uncle took my trunk and put it in my old bedroom…erm the cupboard under the stairs.”

As quick as the annoyance appeared it was replaced with barely concealed fury, “I see,” Griphook said, a bite in his tone. The stupidity of humans knew no bounds, especially Muggles.

“Then let us explain,” Trerx informed him, going easy on the youngster, which wasn’t something they normally did. Considering their client, and who he would grow to be, it didn’t hurt to get on his good side anyway. With the Potter and Black estates well, he was going to become the wealthiest client they had here in the Gringotts British branch. “Help yourself to whatever you like, while we go over this…it will take time.”

Harry didn’t need to be told twice, he immediately scooped up a plate full of the goodies and scooted his chair closer. Despite the food, he paid particular close attention to both goblins, the food was merely an afterthought for his grumbling stomach. Most of his food had been going to keeping Hedwig fed, giving him less than normal.

“Do you understand the concept of a Betrothal?”

“Betrothal…as in marriage?” Harry stared blankly, he’d only heard the term in those godawful movies Petunia liked so much. The period costume movies that she watched when Dudley hadn’t commandeered the TV. Usually while he was at school, he had to do chores and remain off school because of visible bruises when it was apparent it wasn’t Dudley that beat him but a man’s fist or hand. For as stupid as they were, they were extremely careful where it mattered.

“Engagement,” Trerx automatically corrected him, “A promise,”

“Okay, what does that have to do with my situation?” Harry asked, a cautious look on his face, which seemed to please the goblins judging by their looks of satisfaction.

“Signing a betrothal contract would enable you to get out of Dumbledore and the Muggles control.” Griphook explained, a smug smirk curling at his lips. “It would in essence give your partner say in where you go, he would become your magical guardian due to you being underage.”

Harry narrowed his eyes not liking this the least. “So I could be replacing one bad situation for another?”

“No, you see, Dorea Black-Potter, your grandmother was a very smart witch, and very independent. She wasn’t a Black for nothing she ensured that the contract was quite fair and most definitely in her favour.” The Lestranges back then would have done anything to be part of the Black family, so it wasn’t surprising really.

“He has no control over your seats, your money, you or the heirs conceived in the marriage,” Griphook explained, watching Harry blanch at the mention of children.

“Not that this matters, it’s a betrothal, it doesn’t mean they have to get married, at the end of the courting period the engagement can end without repercussion to yourself.” Trerx interrupted Griphook before he scarred the young boy. “You’ll have full access to your estate, can decide what to do with your seats, which by the way are currently being presided over by Albus Dumbledore, even if you cannot use them yourself. You can hire someone to sit in your stead until then.”

“You understand you would both just be using each other for your own ends, yes?” Griphook introduced Harry to the idea.

“Why the hell would anyone agree to that?” Harry asked, he could see why he’d get something out of it but what would his partner be getting out of it? “Who exactly would I be engaged to?”

“The contract is for someone in the Lestrange family,” Trerx, seeing the blank look on his face, they knew he didn’t know them, not surprising really. “Corvus Lestrange set it up, he has two sons, Rabastan and Rodolphus Lestrange, now Rodolphus is already married so it leaves only Rabastan Lestrange.”

“Uh-huh,” Harry murmured narrowing his eyes waiting for the shoe to drop. The food settling uncomfortably into his stomach.

“Rabastan Lestrange is thirty-one years old,” Griphook informed him, causing Harry’s eyes to budge out in shock. “He’s currently an inmate at Azkaban prison.”

“P-prison?” Harry gaped, forget the name, the fact he was in prison was the most shocking.

“Indeed,” Trerx replied, “Now as a newly engaged wizard, he would find himself with more liberties than he had before. You would be able to visit him, company is seriously lacking on the island which would be the only enticement one needs.”

“Doesn’t he have family to visit?” Harry asked blankly.

“It’s very difficult to get approval to see those sentenced to Azkaban for life, especially in the highest level possible. Corvus Lestrange is only able to get approval once a year to visit his sons.” Trerx explained, the Ministry was quite frankly monstrous to do such a thing. “You would be entitled to visit him every week, and the Ministry could do nothing about it.”

“That’s it? That’s all he’d want?” Harry asked doubtfully, it didn’t seem like much.

“We wouldn’t know until we visited him, I have taken the liberty of setting up a meeting today, should you wish to see it through. Together you’d come up with your own stipulations and come to an understanding.” Griphook revealed, and Rabastan was probably already in the ‘waiting area’ recovering from the dementors drinking hot chocolate in attempts at making him lucid.

“And why exactly is he in Azkaban prison?” Harry asked, giving them suspicious looks.

Trerx nodded his approval, good he was asking all the right questions, “Do you know anything about Lord Voldemort and your part in the events that occurred on all hallows eve?”

“Hagrid gave me a simplified version,” Harry replied, “Apparently I killed him after he killed my parents,”

“He said kill?” Griphook asked, quite cautiously.

“Well…no, he used the word defeat, why?” Harry asked confused.

“Because defeat doesn’t mean kill, Mr. Potter,” Trerx explained seriously, “Lord Voldemort was defeated, but he has never been considered dead. The wizard went to extraordinary means to evade death. His spirit endures. His followers, who are named Death Eaters, knew this and went to any and all means to find information or Voldemort himself after what happened that night.”

“Lovely,” Harry uttered sarcastically, exactly what he needed. His heart was pounding dangerously in his chest, the wizard who had killed his parents was technically still alive. He didn’t understand the logistics of it, but he was out of his depth anyway. He knew nothing of the magical world so it wasn’t surprising. He vowed to himself that he would learn absolutely everything he could in order to educate himself.

“After Voldemort's downfall, Rabastan, Rodolphus, his wife Bellatrix and Barty Crouch Junior participated in the torture and permanent incapacitation of Alice and Frank Longbottom and were sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban.” Griphook explained.

Harry’s stomach rebelled, torture? “And this is the wizard you want me to engage myself to?” he squeaked out.

“He’s in prison, Mr. Potter, he cannot harm you, he is quite frankly defenceless,” Trerx explained bluntly, “At least while they are on the island of course.” And he wouldn’t put it past someone to escape. It seemed to be a reoccurring theme as of now. Gringotts, the so called safest place was broken into, what was next? Hogwarts? Azkaban?

“Added to the fact all engagements are automatically…private, nobody can discuss them, lest you inform them of whom you are engaged to. Not even someone as powerful and influential as Dumbledore would get the answers he sought.” Griphook added, “Nobody need know a thing except the immediate families of all involved.”

“And if I went through with this I could go where I want? If I play my cards right with him…I’d be able to go wherever I want?” Harry needed confirmation.

“Not exactly,” Trerx said slowly, “It would probably be required to be someone in the Lestrange family or related to them at the very least.”

“Lovely, if you want me dead you could you know, just do it yourself,” Harry said dryly, while Griphook let out a bark of amusement, so goblins could laugh, good to know.

“They would do nothing to you while you hold a way for Lord Corvus Lestrange to communicate with his sons,” Griphook explained after gaining control over his amusement. “Lord Corvus Lestrange adores his boys, he raised them himself after his wife passed a year after Rabastan was born of Dragon Pox. To see them only once a year is torture, and it’s a supervised visit and he’s unable to give his sons anything due to the ‘danger’ of it being a portkey.” In other words, no food, no letters, no comfort, not even something as basic as shower gel or shampoo.

“Nothing?” Harry asked grimly, understanding the meaning more than any eleven year old should.

“Nothing,” reiterated Griphook. Harry could hand over anything and they would need to allow it after checking, due to the fact they couldn’t interfere with the courtship. Couldn’t prevent engagement presents to be given or taken, they’d done their homework, this would work in Harry’s favour.

“When’s the meeting?” Harry asked resignedly, he wouldn’t get anything done if they just sat here. So, if he wanted to see this through and see if it would work they needed to speak to this Rabastan.

“At six thirty,” Trerx explained glancing at the clock, in exactly twenty minutes, the portkey had already been sent to them. They’d been awfully accommodating, obviously finding it amusing that anyone would want to be engaged to a wizard who was serving a life sentence in Azkaban. “There is something you must know about the prison before we proceed.”

“Which is?” Harry asked, wondering if he was going to like this.

“Azkaban is guarded by Dementors,” Griphook said.

“A Dementor is a gliding, wraith-like Dark creature, widely considered to be one of the foulest to inhabit the world. Dementors feed on human happiness and thus generate feelings of depression and despair in any person in close proximity to them. They show us our deepest darkest memories until we are lost to them. They can also consume a person's soul, leaving their victims in a permanent vegetative state, and thus are often referred to as "soul-sucking fiends", rendering a person an 'empty-shell'. Dementors are closely associated with Azkaban, and are employed by the British Ministry of Magic as the prison guards.”

“They sound…horrific,” Harry murmured, shivering at the mere mention of them. The way the goblins described them definitely didn’t paint a pretty picture at all. Sure, he deserves to be locked up for what he did…but that didn’t sound like just locked up…it sounded as if he was being tortured every day.

“It is,” Griphook, quite honestly the Goblin system was preferable, death was preferable than going to that island.

“I’d like to make a withdrawal and do some…shopping,” Harry replied, you drew more flies with honey, so he might as well make a good impression, especially seen as he wanted something from the wizard. Who might by the way, say no, after all he was a Death Eater, he probably hated him for something he had practically nothing to do with. It wasn’t as if he actually defeated Voldemort for goodness sake, he was only a year old. It was impossible for him to have defeated Voldemort. Still, it might not go in his favour, he realized this, but if it was the only way he could legally do this, then he would do whatever it took.

“Very well, if you’ll follow me,” Griphook stood, moving around the desk towards the young wizard.

“And Mr. Potter?” Trerx added, as he begun to peruse through the parchment on his desk, “Chocolate is very good at combating the effects the dementors have.” Giving him a knowing look, this boy was probably destined for Slytherin, he was learning very quickly or perhaps he’d always been that way. First chance he got, he was looking for a way out of the Dursley’s household and Dumbledore’s magical hold.

It didn’t take long for Harry to have a bag full of galleons and quickly stalking towards the shops. His mind mulling over everything he’d heard and trying to figure out the best way to go about this situation. The goblins liked to make him think he had the upper hand, but the reality was he didn’t think he had. Either that or they genuinely thought he did have the upper hand here. Why would Voldemort’s followers want to help him? it made little to no sense. It had led to their imprisonment, they’d been looking for Voldemort when they were arrested apparently. It would probably give him a great deal of amusement to know he was being beaten.

He'd find out soon enough.

His trip to the shops took all of ten minutes, he was only getting what he needed to entice the thirty-one year old wizard. Bloody thirty-one, he was old enough to be his father for goodness sake. Not that his age really mattered, they didn’t have to get married, but he’d be taking a copy of that contract – after reading it before signing – and re-reading it repeatedly.

With boxes filled with chocolate goodies, biscuits, fruit and basic care products like shower gel, shampoo, soap and a few magazines and books that had just been released – whether he liked them or not Harry didn’t know – if not well that wasn’t his problem, he didn’t really care at this point. He made his way back towards Gringotts at a swift pace, grateful that nobody seemed to recognize him. He had a feeling that if he was recognized it would get back to a certain someone and that was definitely out of the question. The only reason he knew what to put in the care package is the damn movies Petunia liked to watch. So, something good had come out of those godawful things.

“I trust you have everything you’ll need?” was the first thing Griphook asked upon his return to the bank.

“It will have to be,” Harry replied, shrugging carelessly, to Griphook’s dissatisfaction. “This might all be for nothing, he went after the Longbottoms after he was defeated and the world believe it’s because of me. He might get enjoyment out of me being stuck with the Dursleys and in Dumbledore’s control.” Until everything was signed, sealed and delivered well, he wasn’t going to hold his breath or get his hopes up. He was used to disappointment so he wouldn’t be surprised by it, if it went his way then brilliant.

Griphook grudgingly nodded, “But its always best when going through negotiations to endear yourself. Pureblood’s respect that sort of practice.” Corvus Lestrange would be there as well, to oversee the contract due to the fact he was the Lord of the Lestrange family. Even if he had no intentions of letting it go through, he would still get to see his son, so he would most assuredly be there. Not that he could stop it per se, but he could forbid Rabastan from signing it.

“Tell me about me, my family,” Harry asked, he didn’t know a single thing.

And so in the ten minutes they had before the Portkey left, Trerx who had heard the question as he entered began to tell him everything. What family he was born to, what he was viewed as – A Half Blood apparently – the things the Potters did, what his parents did – nothing guess the Dursley’s had been right about that – their affiliations in the Order of the Phoenix, a group of civilians (mostly) attempting to stop the Dark Lord in what they termed was more of a civil war between them. The dark and light sides, their goals and belief’s and the great deal of neutral parties who just didn’t want to get involved with it. With wizards having their own belief’s as well, which sort of got what they were attempting to do lost in the ensuing chaos of it all.

They didn’t spare any feelings, they were blunt and it was obvious that the goblins were neutral as well. Completely unbiased as if what happened didn’t affect Harry’s life.

Harry began to understand… that was exactly what he needed. The truth was unbiased, it just was.

“It’s time,” Trerx stated seriously, and before long the disgusting boot was placed between the three of them. Harry grimaced at the sight of the disgusting boot. He was meant to touch that? “The Ministry like to use items that are inconspicuous, every day Muggle items that people wont want to touch.”

“Muggles can use these?” Harry stated, shaking his head, well, he supposed it was a good thing, but he could imagine people being curious, or wanting the item especially homeless people who were desperate.

For the second time today, Harry felt the jerking sensation behind his naval, but this time he was prepared for it. To his immense satisfaction, he remained steadily on his feet, sure he wobbled, but for his second time it was alright. Better than falling on his ass. The second thing he realized was he was absolutely freezing cold, before blackness claimed him.

“-Sir, Sir!” Harry woke up to noise and two goblins staring at him in surprised concern.

“Fuck,” Harry murmured, shivering in cold and fear, how the hell did anyone endure this place? Knowing what he did about Dementors, his mind was able to figure out what he had heard and seen. His mother’s death, her scream…he was able to put pieces together of what exactly had happened that night at least part of the puzzle.

“Eat,” one of the goblins demanded, as he shoved a piece of chocolate into his hand. With wizard guards around, they were not going to use his name. Not until the contract was complete, then they wouldn’t be able to say a damn thing about him or his visits here. Not even those within the Ministry of magic. They had placed a concealment of sorts upon Harry so nobody could identify him.

“I apologise, I didn’t foresee your…extreme reaction to the Dementors,” Trerx apologised.

“It’s fine,” Harry shook off the effects as he gobbled down the chocolate. Only once he was feeling marginally better did he stand up. If this was how he was affected without them nearby, he definitely didn’t want to meet one face to face. He felt slightly sorry for anyone stuck on this island with those things.

“The meeting is through that door, it’s a conference room, primary used to question wizards,” Griphook informed Harry, giving him every piece of information they could to educate him. “There will be two wizards, Rabastan and Corvus Lestrange, they might not be…overcome at see you.”

Harry gave a quiet chuff of amusement, “Yeah, I got that,” he didn’t need them telling him that. He wasn’t stupid, even if the Dursley’s liked to try and force him to be because their oaf of a son was stupid.

If this wasn’t his only hope to get away from the Dursley’s and Dumbledore…goddamn it, he wouldn’t be doing it. He did wonder if it was something he would do, actually go through with, if marriage had been the only outcome…could he have screwed up his entire future to get out of there? Probably, because they were furious he knew about magic and honestly…Harry had to wonder if they wouldn’t go too far one day. Marriage was preferable to death, at least to him, “One last question…I guess divorce isn’t an option?”

“No, it is not,” Trerx stated seriously, “Magical marriages are until death,” although depending on how ironclad the contract was, they could have partners outside of the marriage after having an heir. Back in the day it was usually only the men allowed, but women were becoming more shrewd and making sure they left wiggle room for their daughters, having more say in things in wizarding society.

“So noted,” Harry murmured, thanking whatever deity out there that this contact was merely a betrothal contract and not a marriage one. “Well, let’s get this show on the road,”

The wizard at the door cleared his throat, stepping in front of the door.

Trerx handed over the paperwork giving him permission from the Ministry to be here, signed and sealed.

“Hand over your packages,” Griphook grunted as magic washed over them to ensure they had nothing else upon their person. The two goblins realised right there and then that Potter didn’t even have his wand on him. They felt like strangling the stupid wizard. Unless, it was with the rest of his things locked away from him, which was the worst sort of thing to happen to a wizard.

They had to wait until each item had been meticulously inspected before the packages were returned very grudgingly.

“Don’t think I’ve not noticed the lack of my name being used,” Harry murmured quietly to the goblins, wondering at the reason why. Nearly every second sentence they would call him Mr. Potter, but they hadn’t since being on the island, instead calling him ‘Sir’ at least he was assuming so, he’d only heard one sir as he woke up.

“Privacy is paramount.” Trerx commented.

“You have an hour,” the dour wizard grunted as he opened the door, allowing the two goblins and unnamed wizard entrance.

Harry didn’t hold it against him, he’d be dour if he had to work here all the time.

Harry barely heard the door banging shut behind him as he stared at the two wizards. There was no mistaken they were father and son, although the son was most definitely malnourished. His prison suit was falling off his lanky frame, hair greasy and quite frankly disgusting. Corvus Lestrange stood, but he didn’t let go of his sons hands which were shaking just like the rest of his body. The relief and despair coming from Corvus Lestrange was palpable.

As for Rabastan Lestrange, he barely looked up. He quite frankly, looked as if he was still lost in his own world…his own horrific memories. Harry had experienced only a moment of that, and despite what he had done, Harry felt for him. It helped because he didn’t personally know the people he’d hurt.

The goblins quickly dropped the disguise on Harry.

There was no surprise on Corvus Lestrange’s face, “Mr. Potter,” he said with deceptive mildness.

“Potter?” Rabastan snarled, sounding like a rabid dog but just as quickly as he was energized he deflated like a balloon. Just shouting that word had exhausted him beyond compare.

Harry walked forward, putting the two packages upon the table, plucking out a bar of Honeydukes finest chocolate and slid it over to the wizard. “Yes, let’s dispense with the pleasantries shall we?” he informed the wizard, “But do not pretend to know who I am, I am not James Potter.”

Corvus’ lips twitched despite himself, a kindling of respect shooting through him at the boys tenaciousness. This had nothing to do with his Lord, the sides in the war, this was something private so he did not allow his own allegiances get in the way.

Rabastan grabbed the chocolate bar, and unwrapped it, almost ready to scoff the lot before he remembered himself. “What do you want? Why are you here?” better yet how the hell had he managed to get in here to visit him? His father hadn’t told him a damn thing. Not that he’d asked, instead he’d spent the five minutes they had clinging to his father, the warmth he exuded and the fact he was getting to touch another person, see another person – that wasn’t a guard – in what he’d learned was an entire decade. Ten whole years since he’d seen his father.

The goblins stood to the side, clearly leaving it to Harry to explain.

Harry realized they were testing him.

Well, who was he to let them down? Shoring himself up, he began, “I believe we can help each other out.”

Rabastan would have scoffed if his mouth hadn’t been full of chocolate, which was helping better than the damn disgusting hot chocolate they’d shoved at him before his father showed up. It tasted like hot water with a little bit of chocolate thrown in.

“How so?” Corvus Lestrange enquired finding himself intrigued, not just by what was happening but the boy himself. He took a seat on the same side as his son, giving Harry the entire other side to sit without needing to feel threatened or anxious.

“The betrothal contract,” Harry stated surely, staring at Rabastan, “Sign it, and I’ll visit you and bring in things you desperately need, company, and a chance to get away from the dementors.”

“Why would you desire to be engaged to my son?” Corvus questioned, there was something he was missing. That contract had been drawn up just after he became Lord Lestrange after his father’s death, between him and Dorea, who had just gotten engaged herself. It had long ago been forgotten as battle lines were drawn up. Until he received the missive this morning, then he knew something was up but he couldn’t investigate anything due to the time restraint he was on in order to get to the prison on time. Plus, he already had someone of Black blood in the family, although he didn’t believe they’d have a child…Bellatrix certainly hadn’t entertained the notion during the years before she was incarcerated on the island.

“It’s mutually beneficiary for both of us,” Harry replied, seeing the uncompromising look on Corvus’ aged face, Harry knew he would need to reveal at least some of the why. “Look it’s the only way I can get myself out of Dumbledore’s control, and have a say in where I live.”

Corvus’ eyebrows rose in shock, almost tempted to ask the boy to repeat himself, “And where exactly do you live that you find so unappealing, Mr. Potter?” there had been so many rumours about the boy, about where he was living and who got custody of him. Did he dislike living in an ordinary accommodations after finding out he has manors and properties all over the world?

Harry gritted his teeth, “For the past ten years since my parents death I’ve lived with the closest living relatives I have. My Muggle aunt and uncle, and needless to say…they despise having a wizard living under their roof. When Muggles are afraid they lash out.” Giving them the blunt uncensored truth, hoping against hope that they would take pity on him enough to sign the damn contract and help him out a little and he in turn would help them.

Complete and utter silence followed that revelation.

-------0

There we go! So will the Lestranges be innocent? Or did they actually attack the Longbottoms but leave them there still sane and someone else have finished the deed? Will we make Dumbledore extra evil in this one and him responsible or just have the Lestranges as bad as they are portrayed? Just like they are in Embracing His True Self but with more to them? Or will we make Dumbledore his usual well-meaning but manipulative self? Will Harry move in with Corvus and learn the way of the pureblood’s with Corvus not even attempting to sway Harry letting the boy do as he pleased? Realizing he was not going to be Dumbledore’s puppet? Or will Corvus send him to a neutral distant relative? Will Dumbledore even realize Harry isn’t at the Dursleys anymore? Figg isn’t the most observant after all…or will we see a rare one that Rabastan turns neutral himself and remain with Harry? Or will we see both become dark? (Dark NOT evil!) Read and Review please! If I keep getting reviews like this first chapter you’ll find this being updated as frequently and as long as Embracing His True Self!

A/N -- And the reason no big deal was made regarding the dementors is because he wasn’t too close to them and they’re goblins, they’d only care if their client was dying which Harry definitely wasn’t. Plus, Harry knew what was happening but didn’t in the book so that’s why I made the lack of deal towards it.

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 3

Rabastan stared blankly at the boy, the chocolate slowly easing the muddled waters his mind was still swimming in. He knew James Potter, he had attended school with the pathetic bully through all seven years. He also knew what Charles Potter – James’ father – looked like as well, he’d gone through his fathers photos often enough as a young boy, anything with a picture of Hogwarts in it, he wanted to see. Things between Gryffindor and Slytherin hadn’t been as problematic. Sure, they had a healthy rivalry for the Quidditch games but nothing like what it was like in his time at school. And he was inclined to believe his father who never exaggerates. Sure, they hadn’t been best friends, but Dorea and Corvus had been close, and obvious Charles had entered that picture. James had looked like Charles double. Harry Potter did not, you could see the Black resemblance peaking out more than the Potter one. The only thing remotely gotten from the Potter family was his hair, it was quite frankly a messy birds nest. Those green eyes, they were familiar, the Mudblood girl, Evans, James had married her. The eyes were familiar but Rabastan could have sworn they weren’t exactly right, that he had seen replicas of those eyes somewhere else. Damn his muddled memories and mind, he should know the answer to this, he knew he should which irritated him. An emotion easier to feel than anything remotely positive here on this island.

Corvus squeezed his sons hand in silent warning, no doubt it would be very easy to rouse his sons anger in here. Normally he’d be composed and articulate in mixed company. Unfortunately, Azkaban had stripped that from his sons, along with nearly everything else. Including his youthful looks, but he was in this thirties now, sentenced to this dreadful place when he was only twenty-one years old. He’d tried to get a trial, a trial for his sons, in order to get a fair hearing, they’d been sentenced together on a whole, a group. Between Bellatrix’s proud proclamation of their lord coming to helping them and Barty’s insane ramblings and begging for help, his sons had been so utterly overlooked during the trial. They’d just assumed that his sons were just as insane as the other two. He had failed obviously, just as he failed in being able to see his sons more than just once a year. They’d been sentenced to solitary cells, solitary confinement due to their ‘heinousness of their crimes’ and that meant he was lucky to see them at all. Neville Longbottom wouldn’t get to be raised by his parents so why should they get to see family in turn? It was very vindictive, the Ministry had been very harsh on them due to the popularity of the damn Aurors.

“Are you not aware of your fame? Mr. Potter?” Corvus questioned the young boy, who looked very subdued but determined. He was what? Eleven years old now, presumably just about to enter Hogwarts. The goblins remained at the door, faces impassive, clearly leaving the boy to do this himself. He wasn’t floundering but it was glaringly obvious he hadn’t had a strict pureblood upbringing.

Harry’s lips twisted into a grimace, “Learned that a few days ago, but fame is a fickle thing, they like you until they don’t.” just reading all the newspapers of the celebrities told him that much. Sure, there were those who were hardcore fans and defended them but really, nothing was worth being judged constantly. All they saw was your downfalls, never your achievements, nothing was ever enough really.

“That is…a very mature outlook to have,” Corvus replied, surprised and humbled by the eleven year olds words. Then again, if Harry had been abused the way he was implying, then quite frankly you had to grow up before your time. Seeing as he had given over packages for his son, knowing what he had done, he decided to give him a way out of it, just this once. “The Ministry of magic would be more than willing to aid you in your endeavour to get out of your abusive situation. Given who you are, there will be many families who would love to take you in. You hold a very rare power in your hands, you could influence them any way you please. Quite frankly one day, you might be as known as Merlin himself.”

Rabastan of course, was surprised – and startled – to hear this, he had been arrested only a few days after his Lord’s defeat. After going to Longbottom manor with his brother, his brothers wife and Barty. He had no idea the sway Harry Potter’s name held. Just how famous had Harry Potter become? Just how badly was the abuse that he felt the need to besmirch his name by betrothing himself to him? He knew he was no means a catch, he was a lifer in this hell hole, he’d die here.

“No, no I wont be able to,” Harry said, glumly, shaking his head as if he needed to emphasis his answer. “Remember? I said I needed to get away from Dumbledore and the Dursley’s, Dumbledore is my magical guardian.” Sounding like the eleven year old he was.

Corvus groaned inaudibly, “Of course,” he said smoothly, Sirius Black was currently in Azkaban serving life for the betrayal of Lily and James Potter along with the death of over a dozen muggles. Without him Dumbledore became Harry’s magical guardian, quite easily he imagined. It was quite disgusting really, how much power Dumbledore had. Pissing off Dumbledore would give him a great deal of satisfaction but it was risky. Especially given his tenuous position within the Ministry despite his status as a Lord and esteemed member of the Wizengamot. Did the young boy even know anything about his history? His past?

“What exactly did those filthy Muggles do to you?” Corvus asked, dark eyes flashing with fury, he loathed Muggles more than he hated Harry Potter. Most would be surprised to hear that given the fact Harry was essentially the reason his Lord had been defeated and his sons put in Azkaban. As much as Corvus and his sons would love to believe that, he knew it wasn’t true, they got caught, it was their own fault at the end of the day. They’d been taught better than that. By both the Dark Lord and himself.

“I’d be better off telling you what they haven’t done,” Harry replied, trying for a blank mask but he failed spectacularly, a pained expression on his face.

Rabastan clenched his hands into fists, it had nothing to do with it being Harry Potter himself but a wizard. How dare the filthy pigs lay a hand on a wizard? They should be killed, tortured and killed for their actions. If he was able he would have done just that, it would be utterly justified. They should all be killed, they didn’t deserve to live.

“If we do this, then we do so with a magical contract that will enforce your end of the bargain, and ensure that our ends are met as well. Does this seem fair to you, Mr. Potter?” Corvus asked the young boy, he wasn’t going to do this without every assurance that his son wasn’t going to be immediately forgotten upon Potter getting his way. He wouldn’t do so with a Vow, he was much too young to be accepting a vow and so new to magic it wouldn’t be ideal.

Harry let out a breath, shaky but not too obvious, disbelief and hope mingling in his gaze, “You’ll help me?” Harry was asking Rabastan, staring at the wizard not even glancing Corvus’ way. Which was met with approval even if technically as Lord Corvus Lestrange, it should have been him Harry asked.

As much as Rabastan wanted to loath the very ground the boy walked on…he found only a scared eleven year old kid begging for help. A wizard, even if he was a half-blood, he was still no doubt going to be a powerful wizard one day with the Black and Potter blood running through his veins. He wasn’t a heartless bastard, and couldn’t pretend to be one now. Plus, even if he denied the boy, he’d only be cutting his own nose of to spite his face. This respite was worth signing a contract even if it was only in name until it was declared fulfilled and nullified when they both agreed not marry. He had to respect the fact the boy had the guts to come outright and state as such. It was such a Slytherin thing to do but not so Slytherin at the same time. Quite a conundrum really. “Yes,” his voice croaky from disuse and not as strong as he would have liked. It sounded off to his ears, not how he remembered himself to be. Cocky and confident, barely just beginning adulthood.

“Thank you,” Harry said, relief shining off him in droves, making his green eyes shine.

The goblins approached with the contract along with a basic piece of parchment for the stipulations to be written on. the contract itself was half filled, and needed only a few other signatures to be complete.

At once the quill poised itself on the parchment and begun writing information down. Enforceable magical contract between Rabastan Lestrange and Harry James Potter.

“Stipulations?” Trerx asked, as always the goblins were straight to business, they couldn’t afford to waste time anyway. As it stood, they only had fifty minutes to get everything straightened out. The guards wouldn’t even allow for a second longer than the allotted hour.

“That neither of us can use the information we disclose during our meetings against the other,” Harry offered up immediately. “Any information shared will stay between us,”

Corvus felt that little fire of respect grow, for someone so utterly Muggle raised, he was smart, he’d be quite the wizard if he grew into his own. Not the smartest in the room, at least not yet, but he had the capacity to be. Part of him actually wanted to see him spread his wings and become a formidable wizard.

“Agreeable,” Rabastan rasped out, lips twitching just a little, not that he had anyone he could tell except his father. If anything, the boy was the one who held the upper hand if he wanted to share information. Which of course he couldn’t, once that document was signed.

That stipulation was quickly written out, Trerx ensuring that it was quite watertight. Right now Trerx was ensuring fairness when it came to his client. He might be young and inexperienced, but he was thinking long term, this was good. If anything happened and Voldemort returned, it would mean Rabastan could not reveal anything that would harm his betrothed.

“That Harry visit my son every week, without fail, except for any extenuating circumstances i.e. illness and or injury.” Corvus replied, “With me acting as a chaperone,” this would guarantee he would at least get to see one of his sons.

“I don’t mind,” Harry offered up seeing the goblins looking at him, then more information was scribbled elegantly on the paperwork.

“I also demand that he remain virtuous during his entire betrothal, otherwise I will demand restitution,” Corvus demanded, “I refuse to let the Lestrange name be dragged further through the mud.”

Griphook coughed a little, “Please keep in mind you’re speaking to an eleven-year-old boy, Lord Lestrange,” and the contract was only for a few years so even at that, the boy wouldn’t be experimenting quite yet.

Harry stared at them with suspicious confusion, wondering what the hell they were talking about.

“What Corvus is saying,” Trerx said, growing the Lord an exasperated look, “Is that you are to remain pure,” still he stared blankly. “Sex, Mr. Potter,” his lips twitching at the sight of how bright red he suddenly went. “You may not act in any improper way while under your Betrothal contract to Rabastan. Which means that you are not to hold hands, kiss or in any other improper way react with either sex in a sexual or suggestive manner.”

Harry grimaced, his mouth puckered up in disgust at the thought, “Yuk,” once again showing his age. “Fine,” having no problem with that one.

Rabastan barely refrained from rolling his eyes, wondering idly just how quickly that suggestion would come back to bite the boy in the arse. Then again by the time the boys balls actually dropped the contract would be over with and puberty will hit him.

“Rabastan will be provided with everything he needs, whether by myself or you, you’ll being him ‘courting gifts’ so to speak just as you did today.” Corvus demanded. He had more than enough money to ensure his son got the best of anything. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be able to bring it in, so he would make sure that Harry would.

“Sure, as long as it’s nothing that will get me locked up,” Harry agreed to yet another clause. He didn’t care what was asked of him if he got the hell out of the Dursley’s and Dumbledore’s control.

“Agreed,” Corvus nodded firmly, he wouldn’t risk the only way he had of seeing his son by doing something so idiotic. It wouldn’t make its way past the guard anyway, who checked absolutely everything.

“Anything else?” Griphook asked after a few moments of silence, “Mr. Potter?”

Harry frowned, his mind pondering on whether he had anything else to offer. “The truth, I’d like to have the safety net of the truth between us.” If he was going to have to come here every week they’d need to talk. He definitely wasn’t going to sit there for ages while Corvus spoke to Rabastan like he didn’t exist. He’d had that happen all too often at the Dursley’s. In fact how often had he said those words? Parroted them back to his uncle? ‘Sit in my cupboard and pretend like I don’t exist?’ no this was a fresh start for him, he had to have it different from the Dursleys.

“With the stipulation that the question does not need to be answered,” Corvus added, the silence would ensure that this stipulation wasn’t a deal breaker. He could discuss whatever he liked without fear the boy would automatically go to say, Dumbledore, and spill all. The fact he had elected to make this a clause suggested he’d been lied to one too many times and no longer wanted that.

If the boy hated Muggles and Dumbledore there was a chance the light side might never get their claws into him. He knew his Lord was not dead, disembodied yes, but not dead. Having the boy at least remain neutral could be a good thing. He knew, better than anyone else, just how difficult it had been for his Lord to do what he did. Children were untouchable, nobody hurt them, not even the Mudbloods, they were magical at the end of the day. Choosing to fight against the dark was another matter entirely. His sons, Barty and Bellatrix hadn’t touched Neville Longbottom, that was how ingrained it was, even if their Lord had broken the most important rule, his most important rule.

“Okay,” Harry nodded, there would be times when he didn’t want to answer too, so it was a good idea.

“Rabastan?” Corvus queried, giving his sons hand another squeeze, Merlin this was awful as much as it was heartening. He’d missed his sons so much, getting to talk to him even for five minutes unwatched had been liberating to say the least. He just wished his eldest son was here, it would make it feel a little more…complete.

“Think everything is covered,” Rabastan said gravelly. Well on that part, he couldn’t wait to see Harry’s face when they went through the actual Betrothal contract. Was it wrong to get amusement out of something the eleven year old probably finds unappealing? Probably, but it was amusing and he found so little of it here. Especially considering none of it would actually be happening. It still required going through, for all their sakes.

Bride (Husband) : Harry James Potter
Groom : Rabastan Corvus Lestrange
Guarantor : Corvus Lestrange
Guarantor : Dorea Black-Potter (Harry James Potter)
Witness 1 : Trerx
Witness 2 : Griphook

The group of five sat and discussed absolutely everything required for the contract as it was filled or discussed (since the majority of the contract was already filled in decades ago) with things being amended or addendums being added. Four years was as high as Harry was going, despite Corvus trying to get it up to seven, which was way too long for a betrothal contract at their ages. In a way he understood, Corvus wanted to see his son, in any capacity he could. When this was over, he could realistically find another witch to do him a favour, to become engaged to Rabastan…he’d set the ball in motion and given a grieving father a way to see his son even when the contract between him and Rabastan was over. Only then did Corvus agree, the four years were enough. In fact, he seemed even more alive, hopeful, than ever before.

Bride price: 90 thousand galleons
Remuneration reimbursement (Breach of contract) 95 thousand galleons
Length of Betrothal contract: (decided by both parties) 4 years

Which meant when Harry broke the contract at the end he'd have five thousand galleons to give in excess to the Lestrange family. Along with the original ninety thousand he'd get for a 'bride price' as it were. Harry didn't care to be honest, if it got him away from the Dursley's and Dumbledore, five thousand was doable (he didn't count the original ninety since the Lestranges were giving it to him anyway as a bride price). Even though an extra ten thousand could be added if it was breached in any way that embarrassed the family.

Living accommodations during betrothal (including country)

Lestrange Manor Wiltshire England

“Wait…are you saying you want me to live with you?” Harry asked, incredulously staring at Corvus as if he had suddenly grown horns.

“Mr. Potter…in signing this contract I will in essence become responsible for you. Any embarrassment you impugn upon yourself, you impugn upon my family. As much of an adult as you feel, you are just an eleven year old boy. One who doesn’t know the rules and regulations of the magical world or how it works. Lestrange manor is quite large, you will receive your own quarters, we need not be attached at the hip, and my library is yours to read as you wish, I only ask that you listen to my suggestions and take them to heart. I will not lie to you, coddle you, or mistreat you. In fact, shall we add that as a stipulation? Any abuse by myself or Rabastan even will result in immediate breach of contract and thereby cease this agreement completely.” Corvus informed Harry seriously, trying to dumb down a little so that the child could understand.

“Yes,” Harry said, licking his dry lips, “I’ll do it,” this was more than he could have ever hoped.

“Good, then we’re in agreement,” Corvus stated, immensely satisfied.

Age of Marriage (if both parties – bride (husband) and groom are in agreement)

Eighteen years of age.

Nothing was said regarding this, since it was very acceptable.

The Marriage should produce at least two male heirs if the bride (husband) is a male carrier and the last of his line. Any further heirs will be in complete agreement on both parties any coercion will result in the contract being broken.

“Do we really need to do this?” Harry murmured, embarrassment clearly written across his face, he wanted the floor to swallow him up.

“Perhaps not, but we must ensure that it’s been read by both parties before signing,” Corvus explained. “Never sign a document without first reading it over and getting a copy for your own.”

Harry nodded, he was already well aware of that, he could scarcely believe he was here listening to all this. Then again, he’d do a lot worse if it got him away from the Dursleys.

Continued Education of the Bride (Husband)

Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry no exceptions

Corvus smiled thinly at that, Dorea had been adamant, but he hadn’t fought her on it. Hogwarts was part of their traditions, long held ones at that. To not graduate Hogwarts was…almost sacrilegious really.

“Agreed,”

“Definitely,” Harry murmured, he hadn’t attended yet, but Harry wanted so badly to learn everything he could at Hogwarts. Glancing at Rabastan who had remained silent throughout most of the conversation, eating his way through the food he’d brought. Harry wondered if he would get to take it with him…if not, then perhaps he shouldn’t bring too much. There was no point if they took it off him now was there?

Last name:

Lestrange-Potter

Now this was where Corvus had heavily disagreed in the initial stages, he would have preferred Potter-Lestrange. It was just too bad that this wasn’t a genuine Betrothal, otherwise he would have tried to get his way again. It would have been nice to pair the Lestrange name with the Black-Potter name. He supposed the Black name would just have to do with Bellatrix. If her and his son ever had a heir which obviously wouldn’t happen now. It hurt badly that he was the last of the Lestranges’ and that his line might perish with him, and his sons stuck in Azkaban for the rest of their days.

Both quietly agreed, and before long they got to the next part of the betrothal contract.

Financially

The bride (husband) will retain control of her (his) own estate (trust vault) and any other vaults specifically willed to them.

The bride (husband) will retain control of his/her own seats within the wizengamot and her/his place on the council of Lords.

“I assume you do not understand much of this part, Mr. Potter?” Corvus questioned the soon to be teenager.

“No, but I do know Dumbledore’s using them and that I can have someone vote in my stead,” Harry informed Corvus sounding annoyed. No doubt at Dumbledore and his rather…long stretch he had on Harry’s estate.

“I have a few books that will be able to explain them to you,” Corvus declared, “Once you’ve read them I will be more than happy to discuss everything with you and answer any questions you have.”

Harry nodded, his lips twitching a little as if he had Corvus all figured out.

Occupation

The bride (Husband) has the right to chose her or his own career path without interference from her/his husband and the in-laws. Any such breaches of this will result in breach of contract allowing the marriage to be annulled.

“Hmm,” was all Harry said, it sounded as though this had been well thought out, and the reason why didn’t exactly fly over Harry’s head. Although, truthfully he didn’t get the full extent of it, but in time he would. “I thought divorce wasn’t optional,”

“Normally it is not, but this is one ironclad contract that showcased Dorea Black-Potter’s greatest work.” Griphook explained reverently. “The magic imbued in the marriage contract – which isn’t the Betrothal contract – is quite frankly a work of art and will break the marriage should it be breached.” It was one of a kind.

“Dorea Black-Potter was a lawyer, and a very good one at that,” Trerx interjected, giving Harry another piece of information on his grandmother. “We unfortunately, must hurry this up,” they were running out of time.

They brushed over the fidelity clause, just to make sure everything was as it was supposed to be. Quite frankly, this contract – and the marriage one – made it so that both wizards got equal rights, it was a damn shame that it would never amount to anything.

The first male heir got the Black (Potter) estate/name, the second male heir got the Lestrange estate/name even if they hyphenated their names the first child still got the Black (Potter) estate.

Then there was the usual stuff, chaperones, remaining pure until the wedding, both parties, and if one wasn’t pure he would remain faithful during and after the betrothal and marriage. Neither partner would bring another to their bed, or have children out of the marriage. Again such thing would result in the contract being terminated immediately.

“Son?” Corvus said quietly, giving his hand another squeeze, at some point, Rabastan had been lulled to sleep by all the talking they were doing. Corvus hated to wake him really, since this was probably the first decent sleep he’d had in a decade. The dementors prevent any real rest, but this document had to be signed.

“My apologies,” Rabastan stated, sitting up exuding only a small amount of embarrassment. Clenching and unclenching his fists, hating how weak and drained he always was. He shouldn’t have slept at all during such an important meeting. Before Azkaban he most certainly wouldn’t have, and would have argued in favour of a contract more suited to himself. Then again he was a Slytherin for a reason.

He wondered where his betrothal would end up…probably Gryffindor like the rest of the Potter’s before him.

“It’s okay,” Harry said quietly, he understood exhaustion that came from not getting enough to eat. It was so difficult to get his chores done on time because of it.

“Shall we gentlemen?” the goblin said, plucking a quill out of his pocket, “Now Mr. Potter this is unlike anything you’ve ever done. This is a blood quill, it will feel like a sharp prickling on your palm as you write your name. It is how magical contracts are drawn up. The pain is merely temporarily.”

Harry stared at it warily, before grudgingly taking it and signing his name where it was clearly indicated for him to do so after a quick read. The first one was the agreement drawn up between them, which he handed over to Rabastan who began to read it, the second was the betrothal contract which was also handed over to Rabastan after a quick read over.

Harry James Potter

Rabastan Lestrange (very shaky but legible)

 

“Congratulations on your Betrothal gentlemen,” Griphook stated, packing everything back up, cleaning up the blood on the quills in clear view of the three wizards before they too were put away. “We shall give you a moment in private,” With that the two goblins left the room, leaving them for the remaining five minutes they had.

For the first time in his life, Harry felt genuine happiness and raw relief. He owed the Lestranges everything, and he sincerely hoped he didn’t have cause in future to regret it. Freedom Harry realized, had a taste, and Harry couldn’t wait to taste it some more.

Neither goblin or Lestrange or even Harry realized the future they were setting in motion by this one simple desperate act.

------------0

WOW I guess I’m doing right by this story huh! I’m so pleased you’re all enjoying it! So will we have a happily married Rodolphus/Bellatrix in this one or will it be fraught with tension as it often is and have Harry annul the marriage by disowning her so that Rodolphus can remarry? (jumping the gun here I know :P ) with Bellatrix trying to get in with Voldemort who has no desire to have her or will be actually see a Bellatrix/Voldemort in this? With the birth of their child? Will the Dark side still lose in this forcing them to flee? Will Voldemort be furious at his followers or gleeful at their forethought? At least until he realizes he can’t use anything? :P Hmm, how long will it take for Rabastan to become increasingly protective of Harry and loathing being unable to be near him? Will Harry visit Sirius Black? Will Corvus Lestrange tell him everything? Will Harry go seeking answers and find out he’s innocent and begin the preparations for a trial? Will Sirius become more loyal to Harry for getting him out and furious with Dumbledore enough to become neutral or will Harry have to give up his godfather to the light side? Will Harry even feel anything towards him he is a stranger after all! :P How will Voldemort return in this story? Getting the stone when Harry has absolutely no desire to go looking for it? the chamber of secrets with Harry being well aware of Tom Riddle’s true name and sending it to Corvus? Will the ritual blotch up with Harry NOT being his ‘enemy’ or seeing Voldemort as his enemy resulting in a different sort of ritual used? One that would force Voldemort to protect Harry (Corvus’ idea) unaware of the Horcrux until the ritual is complete?

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 4

Harry had never felt so many positive emotions in his life, he quite literally felt fit to burst. In his excitement, he forgot everything, and impulsively rounded the table and hugged Rabastan tightly who had stood in alarm. “Thank you,” he said, yet again elation and jubilation making him act a little out of character. He was never one for physical contact, not with his history. Every touch he’d ever known was ones of extreme pain. It might have been muffled by Harry’s head planted in Rabastan’s stomach but they both heard in the silence of the monotonous room.

Rabastan stared down at the boy, almost as if he had never encountered a child before in his life. Utterly stunned by the display of affection, it wasn’t purely because of the decade spent in prison either. Pureblood’s had more decorum than that, they didn’t randomly go around hugging people, even those close to them. The only people who had ever hugged him was his father and brother and a few partners he’d had before prison. Rabastan glanced up at his father, almost looking as though he was pleading him for help.

Corvus Lestrange’s lips just quirked up a little in amusement, watching the scene before him. This scene gave away just how Harry had been raised. If he had been in the magical world, he would know that hugging strangers just wasn’t done. Although he had a handle on his emotions, but that was quite self-explanatory. Survival instincts at the fore.

Just as quickly as the hug began, Harry hastily withdrew, looking just as surprised as Rabastan by his own display. At least he didn’t apologise, which Corvus felt extremely pleased by. His eyes did narrow in on Harry rubbing at his chest as though the simple hug had caused him great pain. He was subtle about it, if he hadn’t been paying such close attention, he’d never have noticed.

Scuffing his shoes along the concrete floor, he asked, “What now?” very clearly lost, evidently getting free of the Dursleys and Dumbledore had been as far as his thoughts had gotten. Which indicated a lack of preparedness, the lack of preparedness may be one of two things, one the belief it wouldn’t work out in his favour or two he was impulsive. Given his statements during the contracts negotiations Corvus didn’t believe that was the case. So, he had come here without hope that it would work out, despite that he had brought in gifts for Rabastan anyway. Which lightened Corvus’ heart, did the boy know what his sons were in prison for? Perhaps the goblins hadn’t shared that with him, but he didn’t think so. The goblins wouldn’t risk their reputation, especially not with the last Potter heir.

“Now, Mr. Potter, we are going to visit St. Mungo’s and have you checked out by a healer,” Corvus stated firmly, having a feeling how this conversation would go.

Harry’s head jerked up ,”What? No way!” he protested vehemently.

“I understand the urge to hide your injuries, to avoid hospitals, it’s ingrained no doubt.” Corvus nodded as if he understood, and in a way he did, but only intellectually. He couldn’t understand why anyone would abuse a child, each child was special, cherished and should be treated thusly. Unfortunately, it did happen, more often than they’d like. His own uncle had abandoned his children, treated them appallingly like they didn’t matter. His father had been disgusted by the behaviour, but hadn’t disowned him regardless of his antics always hoping he’d grow up and change. He hadn’t, his own children had died before him and he’d died a lonely man, and quite frankly, Corvus didn’t think his uncle had changed even one whit towards his end. To think he had been named after him. “You need not hide, nor endure pain any longer. The healers at the hospital are bound very tightly by confidentiality, and cannot reveal anyone’s private records, which means, whoever you see, will keep it quiet. Magic is involved in their profession, only healers, Medi-witches don’t have the same vows to keep.” He added the last part only as an afterthought, Harry needed to learn everything he could about the magical world so he summarised, he’d be doing this a great deal.

“Listen to my father, he knows what he’s talking about,” Rabastan told Harry, his tone slightly cold and distant.

A knock at the door warned them at it was time to depart.

Corvus regardless of the company he was in, hugged his son once more, listening intently to what his son whispered into his ear. Once they parted he nodded at his son, ensuring Rabastan knew that he had heard him and agreed. “I’ll see you next week,” he told his son with a sigh of relief, he didn’t care that showing emotion was demeaning, this was his son, and he needed all the positivity he could get in his life. one of the first things he’d do once he got back to the Manor tonight was set up the continued meetings between his son and his ‘betrothed’ and the beauty was, the name need not be revealed. They would know though, since Rabastan had signed a magically binding contract. That would be the only proof they need. The longer he could keep Harry Potter off the radar the better it would be for all concerned.

Next week, he’d see his father every week, the shock was now just beginning to set in.

“Will you be allowed to keep the stuff?” Harry asked, just as the guards stepped in looking impatient, he turned a gimlet glare on him.

“Of course, they cannot stop him receiving his betrothal gifts,” Corvus stated with warning steeped in his voice solely for the guards. Thank Merlin they weren’t Aurors and had no association with Frank and Alice Longbottom otherwise he knew regardless of the threat something would happen to the items Harry had brought. He had of course, done his due research on anyone coming into contact with his sons, regretfully neither had been susceptible to bribery and he couldn’t find a single thing to blackmail them with.

“Bloody hell, you’re Harry Potter!” the tallest one squeaked out, eyes bugging out of his head in shock when he got a peak at the lightning bolt scar. The worst thing was, he couldn’t reveal anything that happened on the island to anyone. He couldn’t tell anyone he had seen the famous Harry Potter. “What are you doing here?” ‘with this ilk’ went unspoken but the look they gave him revealed all.

Harry closed his eyes for a moment and sighed, deeply uncomfortable with the eyes upon his person. He was really beginning to dislike this, all the attention, he was used to being ignored. He never thought he’d miss it quite so much, was this what it was always going to be like? Gawked at, have his own name parroted to him as though he didn’t know it? How long before the judgement began to show through their shocked eyes? The condemnation just like the Dursley’s? He felt a shudder crawl up his spine just thinking about it.

“Do you even know who you’re consorting with?” the shorter one demanded as if Harry was committing the biggest sin possible in his eyes.

“One more word and you will be dealing with my lawyer,” Corvus said with deceptive mildness, warning both of them that they were on shaky grounds. His words weren’t empty promises either, he’d received many a pay-out because of idiots like these thinking they were better than him. they might like to think so, but at the end of the day his lawyers were brutal and extremely thorough. It was almost pathetic taking money from them, not that he needed it, but it would ensure they never forgot they were actually beneath him.

That made them snap their mouths closed, despite the fact they hadn’t directly said anything about Corvus Lestrange…they knew well enough now that his lawyers would go to great lengths to make it seem so. A friend of theirs had been caught in the crossfire once, he’d spent five years paying off the fine, having to pay it in instalments due to the fact he couldn’t afford the price of the lawyer he hired to defend him, and everything the court demanded he pay in compensation. Bloody Purebloods like to stick together, he’d never stood a chance. As soon as he paid everything off he left the job as a guard and began working in retail in Diagon Alley which only earned him a third of what he’d used to make. He never stuck to one job either, he’d had twelve jobs in the five years, and didn’t seem likely to settle down any time soon.

Corvus watched them with smug satisfaction, before dismissing them entirely, only to catch Harry watching the scene with wonder and voracity written across his face. He couldn’t help but flash back to a similar scene in his past, that same look on Tom Riddle’s face, considering he rarely let anyone see his feelings it had been as staggering to see it on Tom as it was to see it on Harry Potter. Placing his palms upon Harry’s shoulders, ready to guide him out, when he felt the young boy stiffening and barely concealing a flinch. They definitely had to visit St. Mungo’s or a healer, doing so privately might make things easier for Harry so his own healer might just be the thing needed to garner more trust from the boy.

“If you will excuse us,” Corvus stated coolly, as if it was his idea to finishing this meeting and not them. His shark like grin was hidden behind an impenetrable mask, as he watched indignation pass over their features.

“I assume you are coming with us, Lord Lestrange?” Griphook questioned the wizard, he doubted very much that the wizard would let Harry out of his sight any time soon. When Corvus had stated any impugning of his name reflecting upon the Lestrange name, despite nobody knowing, it was very true.

“If Mr. Potter doesn’t have a problem with that,” Corvus informed them, as always polite to a tee. He couldn’t just invite himself, especially if the boy required time to collect himself. Although, he didn’t wish to let the boy out of his sight, not for anything malicious, but a genuine need to teach him everything he could. Even if he had any malicious intentions, the contact would prevent anything on his part. He wasn’t like the disgusting Muggles, he’d never harm a child, let alone one who couldn’t wield their wands. There was absolutely no honour in that, his lips curled just thinking about the Muggles.

Harry shrugged, pausing for a moment before saying, “I don’t mind,”

“Stand up straight, don’t shrug like an ineloquent hooligan,” Corvus stated firmly, “I don’t want to hear what you think someone – mainly me – might want you to say, I want you to say what you feel or think. If you wish to return to Gringotts on your own, then do so, I will meet you there, if you do not mind my coming then state as such.” Suspecting the boy simply didn’t wish to rock the boat quite so soon, but it would sink in that no harm can come to him from either himself or Rabastan. It was a safety net that he’d never had before.

Harry unconsciously did as he was ordered to immediately, his mind used to doing whatever he had to in order to stop himself suffering further. This time, his mind didn’t protest, in fact he was rather…glad to do it. He had seen the way Corvus had dealt with those two guards back there, and Harry liked it. How they’d backed down by a threat, no violence, no anger, just a simple threat and he didn’t even sound pissed. It had worked wonders and truly, he wanted to learn to have that sort of power over people who try to get one over him. He never wanted to be vulnerable again, this was his chance, he was going to embrace it fully. He would learn everything he could, with magic he would fight to get on top, no matter what.

“Mr. Potter?” Corvus called out, frowning at the boy, who looked a million miles away. It’s the same look that his son had worn for the majority of the meeting they’d just held. Hopefully with human contact, and constant time away from the dementors, he’d get stronger both mentally and physically.

“You can come with us,” Harry told him, his back slouching again as the pain made itself known, he was surprised he’d lasted as long as he had.

The four touched the portkey, and the island was quickly a distant memory as they landed into the warmth that was a Gringotts office, helping ease the coldness that had penetrated their very bones. The coldness didn’t bother Harry as much as it was apparently bothering Corvus and the goblins, as they unconsciously sought out the only heat source in the room. The fireplace.

“You have some more paperwork to fill out, Mr. Potter, then you’re free to go,” Trerx said, “Lord Lestrange may stay if Mr. Potter wishes it,” it wouldn’t hurt to have someone nearby who knew what they were doing.

“What paperwork?” Harry asked, sitting down, Azkaban hadn’t dimmed the elation still coursing through him. He was free, he was absolutely stunned, he never had to return to the Dursleys and Dumbledore couldn’t force him to return.

“One that gives you full access to your estate, luckily due to your Betrothal, Dumbledore need not be informed, and as he’s no longer your magical guardian, he will no longer be able to access your accounts or need to be informed of any expenditure of your trust vault.” Griphook and Trerx calmly made their way towards their own seats, feeling quite smug that they’d been able to help their client so successfully and without drama.

“But he will realize he has no control over me or where I stay,” Harry deduced what they weren’t saying.

Corvus arched a brow, yes, definitely smart, he heard what people didn’t say as well as what they did.

“That’s quite correct…but if you would prefer it not be known quite so soon, we can delay things and make it seem as though he’s still the one in control until you’re more comfortable in your position within the magical world?” Trerx asked, which would be very easy to do. They’d already sent a letter to Dumbledore regarding Harry’s expenditure, Dumbledore wouldn’t be expecting another one for a year or so. “It’s a simple matter of allowing him to retain his belief that he’s still in charge of your seats within the Wizengamot and council of magic.”

Corvus grimaced, the power Dumbledore held in those two governing bodies was infuriating.

“No, if I let him think he’s won from the beginning he’ll think he can continue,” Harry shook his head vehemently.

“I think perhaps, you should listen to the goblins, at least until you are taught the fine art of Occlumency, Mr. Potter, just one year, let him believe things are going his way,” Corvus suggested, in no way making it sound like an order. Harry had just begun to experience true freedom, and if people did try to order him around Corvus suspected he would do the opposite just for the hell of it.

“What’s Occlumency?” Harry asked, turning to face Corvus circumspectly.

“It’s the art of keeping ones mind safe from outside influence,” Corvus patiently explained, “In other words, once you master Occlumency you will be able to close your mind from external penetration. Anyone who has mastered Legillimency can read someone’s mind, and Albus Dumbledore is quite proficient in both arts. He would never risk going too deep, so he reads surface thoughts, it might end up being enough to gleam everything you wish to keep from him.”

Harry’s eyes narrowed extremely cagily, “You can do it too?”

“A lot if people can yes, but no, Mr. Potter, I have not read your mind,” refraining from stating the obvious, that sometimes his feelings and thoughts were clear as day splashed across his face. “I have no desire to, not to mention it is illegal to evade someone’s privacy, most of the people I deal with on a day to day basis have been taught the art of Occlumency from a young age regardless.” And the Ministry liked to think it was an ‘obscure old branch of magic’ despite the fact most of them were practitioners of that particular craft, nobody speaks about it though.

Harry was beginning to realize he was way in over his head, “Will I be able to learn it before school starts in September?”

Corvus inhaled sharply, “Normally there has to be some trust between student and teacher, but yes, if you practice hard enough, you’ll learn just enough to know if anyone tries to read your mind. That way you can take preventative measures and make it clear that you’ll contact the Ministry for their illicit activities.” Meditation and simple practice should be enough to start with, if Harry was determined to cut Dumbledore out completely then he would need to make sure he had rudimentary shields up.

“Then I want him locked out of everything,” Harry said shoring himself up for any argument that came his way. He refused to allow this Dumbledore to continue using anything of his after his actions…or rather inactions. Becoming his magical guardian and then just ignoring him for ten years…while he got the use of his inheritance? Hell no, Harry thought vindictively, he refused to participate in any of Dumbledore’s illusions. He would not be used.

“Very well,” Trerx replied, still looking through the files while Griphook filled in paperwork with speed that Harry knew he wouldn’t be able to accomplish in years, especially not with a Quill.

“Do you wish to use someone as a proxy?” Griphook asked, pausing in his writing momentarily.

“Neither yourself nor my son can use them, not at least until you are fifteen years old,” that was when he could sit upon the wizengamot and council of magic. There had been many attempts at changing the rules, to make them seventeen years old before you can vote on any governing body. Fortunately, the pureblood’s did not like change, and always managed to ensure that their old laws weren’t changed. Not even with Dumbledore’s popularity, it explained why he had tried eight years ago, insisting it was too much power for a young wizard or witch to have. That the focus should always be school, so that they didn’t fall behind. Not even Augusta Longbottom had voted in favour of Dumbledore’s attempt to change the laws that had governed them for generations.

“For now, no proxy, not until I understand everything,” Harry said, he had no idea how much power he’d be giving someone, so, until he did, he refused to let it happen.

Corvus chuckled, nodding in approval, not sure why he was surprised by that answer. By the time Harry was old enough to claim his seat, any contract between Rabastan and the boy would be done. Four years he’d have of access to his son…perhaps Harry might take pity – not that he wanted pity, but if it bought him more time with his son then he’d do it – on him and extent that timeline, he might have seen him just once so far, but he didn’t want to go back to the clinical visits with the damn guards breathing down his neck. The only private conversation he’d had with his son was during his first attempt at a re-trial during the time they didn’t have a Minister, which had fallen through anyway. He’d been able to get a private meeting with his son and their lawyer. The other attempts just fell through completely the Minister refusing to sign off on it.

“Understood,” Griphook left the spaces blank, the seats would be dormant for now, until Harry either allowed someone as proxy or begun presiding in them himself. “We will give you twenty-four hours before we inform Albus Dumbledore that his duties are no longer required. It will give you enough time to get settled into Lestrange manor.” They couldn’t put it off any longer than twenty-four hours, they were legally obliged to inform him that his services were no longer needed. Plus, it was more than clear that Harry wanted to cut Dumbledore of from any control whatsoever. Not that they blamed him, he had ignored the boy and the abuse he suffered for ten years. They wouldn’t be surprised if he actually knew. They hadn’t had any real time to dig into everything, but if they had, they summarised they’d find enough to actually have Dumbledore implicated for at least knowing about the abuse.

“That’s good, I need to go back, I can’t leave Hedwig there,” he may have just got the owl a few days ago, but it was his first gift, and something he would cherish for all time. His beautiful snowy owl, she even let him touch her, and quite frankly…he preferred animals to human, they didn’t hurt you, and you could trust them, they didn’t care about what you could or couldn’t give them.

“You did not bring your belongings along?” Corvus asked surprised, even if he only held a little hope, he would have brought everything…that he didn’t suggested Harry didn’t even hold out a smidgen of hope of getting out of his situation. A grim reminder of Harry’s life if he didn’t trust anyone or anything. Just how bad was the abuse? He would be about to find out. Well, if he could convince the boy to go through with it. He didn’t want to push too hard, not quite so soon, at least until trust had been built up between them…if the boy ever did trust him.

“No,” Harry replied, his face wiped of all emotion.

Corvus nodded, perhaps learning Occlumency would be easy for him, he certainly knew how to refrain from wearing his heart on his sleeve. He had a good grip on his emotions, but given his past, again, it was hardly something extraordinary surprising. “Then we shall go and retrieve your personal belongings.” It wouldn’t be his first outing in the Muggle world, and probably not his last.

Here he went with the ‘we’ again, unfortunately for him, there was not a damn thing he could do about it. He would need help getting around, whether it’s to Privet Drive to retrieve his belongings or to Lestrange Manor.

“I can pick you up at the Leaky Cauldron in a few hours if you’d prefer to go alone?”

Harry felt surprised and happier with that offer on the table, glad he wasn’t being ordered around.

Corvus noticed his relaxing and knew he’d made the right call to give Harry the options, even if he would probably still opt for the first one. It was much easier, and part of Harry would no doubt be worried he’d be dropped like a sack of potatoes if he put a toe out of line. He still believed that they were doing him the favour and that the Lestranges had the upper hand. He pondered on what may happen when the boy realized his own worth…fortunately the contracts were ironclad, so there would be no skipping ones duty. He rather hoped things remained amicable, if the boy became a soldier for the light, it definitely wouldn’t. considering who had killed the boy’s parents he deduced that the boy would most likely never go dark, so neutral was all he could hope for. In fact it was preferable to the only other conceivable outcome. He couldn’t manipulate the boy into it, he had a feeling Harry would know. Plus, sooner or later that truth promise would kick him in the ass, while they were in Azkaban together, Harry could ask him anything, and if he didn’t answer then it would be clear.

“It will be quicker if you take me,” Harry said, the choice easy to make now that there was a choice to be made.

“Very true,” Corvus agreed, hopefully it would be that easily to convince Harry to see a healer.

“Read these over and if you agree, sign them, these ones do not require the blood quill you used earlier,” Trerx explained, placing the paperwork in front of the teen, unsurprised that Corvus moved closer to read them over Harry’s shoulder. No doubt Corvus would wish to make sure all paperwork was submitted and true to its goal, which allowed him to see his son. “Not with a goblin certifying you are in fact Harry Potter and it wasn’t done under duress.” Although signing magical contracts couldn’t be faked by another person due to the blood, they could in fact be done under duress. If there was a will there was a way, wizards were quite crafty sometimes, even if simple logic did escape the majority of them.

Harry took his time reading over everything, there was no impatience from those in the room with him that allowed him to relax and actually enjoy reading over the information. Half of it went over his head, with the legal jargon, but he understood the gist of it. The second he signed the first of the paperwork Dumbledore would cease having any control over the Potter estate, which included the seats.

The second piece of paperwork gave him full control over his estate, “You cannot legally use the term ‘Lord’ until you are fifteen years old.” Most didn’t until their parents handed over the reins, if they ever did. Usually parents only did it when they were ready to retire, others kept their Lordship and control over the estate until they died, passing them on to their heir with the will reading. Actually, both were equal in terms of what the families preferred to do. Despite the wars that waged in the magical world, it was actually rare to find a fifteen year old taking the place on the wizengamot. It wasn’t always to do with teenagers not wanting anything to do with politics either, it was just very rare to be the last of your line, since most families did their hardest to ensure that didn’t occur.

When he became Lord, he would also gain his Lordship ring, which James Potter had never worn in his life. He’d had no political aspirations, and had nobody sit as proxy in the years he’d been Lord of the Potter Estate. No doubt Dumbledore had pleaded for the use of them, but he’d gotten his way eventually, the old fool had not only many seats on the wizengamot but he’d actually become chief warlock due to the high number of seats under his control. In fact, if Corvus recalled correctly, he’d taken the Black seats as well, despite the fact he shouldn’t have been able to. There were many Black’s still alive, albeit none that have the name, and no males which is a stipulation for the estate. Draco Malfoy and Harry were both related to the Black’s, Draco more recently due to his mother having Black blood, Harry his grandmother.

Only once Harry was sure he had read everything did he sign, “I’d like a copy, please,” Harry said politely.

“Of course,” Griphook said, it was a given that his paperwork be copied for his own record keeping. A click of Trerx’s fingers had them copied and Griphook handed them over to Harry.

“Is there anything else we can help you with today, Mr. Potter?” Trerx asked, a smug smirk set in place, quite proud of his actions today. He would look forward to hand writing that letter to be delivered to Hogwarts for Albus Dumbledore. It was just a shame he wouldn’t get to see the look on his face, they were supposed to be impartial, neutral, but when it came to certain people…well, they just didn’t like them. Too much power, too stupid, too manipulative for their tastes, especially when it came to peoples money.

“Has there been any action on Mr. Potter’s vaults for the past decade?” Corvus asked, unable to keep silent on the subject. He doubted very much Dumbledore needed money, but appearances could be deceptive. The Dumbledore family never had extremely extravagant properties or spoke of riches, and especially the last lot, the elder Dumbledore had been unemployed, his wife as well, their daughter died young, leaving only two boys, Aberforth and Albus, Aberforth bought Hogshead with his inheritance and Dumbledore…there was no properties in his name. Just because there was none in his name, didn’t mean there wasn’t any purchased in secret.

Both goblins remained stubbornly silent, Corvus Lestrange wasn’t entitled to know anything regarding Harry Potter’s finances, whether his son was betrothed to the child or not it didn’t matter.

“Has there?” Harry asked, his stomach twisting at the thought. Did they already know about his fortune? He was surprised they’d let him come alone and not just cleaned him out the other day there if that was the case.

“The Dursley’s get a stipend of two hundred galleons a month for your upkeep,” Griphook informed them, which by the way was more than generous, half of that would have been all that was required. “Fifty galleons goes to a one Arabella Figg, that too is monthly.”

Harry choked on thin air, “That was…is…nearly a thousand pound a month they’d get,” he calculated feeling rather faint. Arabella Figg? His batty old babysitter who watched him when the Dursley’s went on holiday – with his money!! – and any other time the Dursley’s needed someone to watch him so they didn’t need to take him with them.

“All but a penny,” Griphook agreed, well aware of the going rate from turning galleon to Great British Pounds.

“They never spent anything on me!” Harry protested, feeling sick to his stomach, all that shit about them taking him in out of the goodness of their hearts. It was their greed that made them agree to take him in. A thousand pounds a month is a lot of money, every penny…they spent on their miserable fat fucking pig of a son instead. Oh, how he hated them.

“You can sue them, Mr. Potter,” Corvus said, eyes flashing furiously. Not only had they abused the boy but they’d been getting paid as well for an upkeep they clearly didn’t do judging by the clothes he wore. “Take back every single Knut they’ve taken from you. The goblins do not tolerate thievery and this is exactly that, theft.” In a way, since it was meant for Harry’s upkeep which they hadn’t kept. They might not get every single Knut back, but the majority of it would be back in Harry’s bank account within weeks knowing the goblins.

“You can do that?” Harry asked, staring at the goblins, clearly trusting them more than Corvus at the moment, but that was to be expected.

“For a fee,” Trerx stated, “Certainly farer than what a lawyer would take for the case,” and they’d take longer too.

Inhaling sharply, a wicked grin slowly spreading across his features, “How much?”

“Forty galleons,” Trerx explained, they’d only need a few hours to get everything in order, that was magic for you. The Muggles wouldn’t know what hit them, it was going to be a glorious sight to behold. Magic sped up the process, in a few hours the signatures required would be applied and a squib company sent out. They didn’t move as slow as the Muggle world, they didn’t need to.

“An hour?” Harry asked incredulously.

“Yes, but we will only require a few hours to have everything done,” Griphook said with a feral grin of his own. “Things are quite…different in the magical world Mr. Potter, given time you’ll see that.”

“But no guarantee you’ll succeed,” Harry pointed out the obvious, did he want to spend money on something that might just turn out to be a waste of his time.

“Oh, we will succeed Mr. Potter or we shall waive the fee,” Trerx promised, that was how confident he was.

“Then do it,” Harry stated, his heart pounding in his chest, wondering if he was doing the wrong thing or not. If this all blew up in his face…his uncle would actually kill him for this. Then before his eyes, a contract was yet again drawn up, and Harry could swear the goblin was enjoying writing up these contracts. Or was it because they were getting to enact their own justice so to speak? Harry didn’t have the guts to ask.

“Read it and sign on the line,” Griphook said, all business, as usual. “An itemised bill will be sent out, so you know every process that this operation goes through.”

“I understand,” Harry said, signing the document which he noticed didn’t go past four hours, so that meant they couldn’t take any more than one hundred and sixty galleons. Considering how much the Dursley’s had been taking it was nothing. He also signed another document that ensured all outgoing expenditure done in the past decade was cancelled effective immediately.

“This is yours to read through, its all the coming and goings from your vaults, they self-update, it’s a portfolio,” Trerx explained setting a dragonhide bound folder in front of him, which looked really expensive and classy. “Any questions regarding and of it, write to me and I will help you in any way I can,” hopefully not with questions that a book could answer, otherwise that would irritate him fast.

Harry glanced down at the book before nodding, shoring himself up, he knew he was going to have to read so much in the coming days. Quite honestly, he didn’t mind the reading so much…as fearing that he might not understand it all. He didn’t want to embarrass himself or worse…make the Lestranges regret giving him a chance. As Corvus had said, any slight to him is a slight to them. He didn’t get it though, if nobody knew, who was going to be embarrassed or ashamed? Wizards were weird Harry thought to himself.

--------0

Will the Dursley’s be there? Will Corvus decide to investigate Figg and the surroundings of Privet Drive to get more information? Will we see the Dursley’s eviction? Will most of the ‘yearly’ chapters be Harry’s visit to Rabastan? If so would you be alright with that? Time at Hogwarts inner spaced by talks with Harry and Rabastan in Azkaban? How will Dumbledore react to everything? Will we see him try and manipulate him or will Flitwick or Severus protect him as you can see I’m leaning towards Slytherin or Ravenclaw which would you prefer? And How would you like Neville to be a Lestrange? Just something I’m only thinking about a little either way it wont affect the story overly much! Will Corvus end up eliminating those who had a hand in Harrys abuse or will it be Rabastan who makes that decision and demands his father do it? So, will Tom get the stone, coming back through the diary or a ritual in Harry’s fourth year? I’m honestly stuck on that decision. Everyone thinks Tom would not have figured out the mirror BUT come on! He would have surely! Then again doesn’t mean he still could get it out…but he wouldn’t be against using someone else to get it…the chamber again doable, but so is fourth year…hell will the events in third year even happen if Harry knows about Sirius? Will he? Do you want to see Sirius have part in Harry’s life – bear in mind he’ll end up more like he is in Embracing His True self – without the 3rd through 5th shenanigans! IF he’s in it at all…and not with Dumbledore Read and Review please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 5

Corvus shortened his stride through the bank, seeing as Harry wasn’t at his side, his shorter legs finding it difficult to keep up with him. There was also the fact the young boy definitely had to be in pain, oh, there was nothing glaringly obvious about it. Any less observant wizard definitely wouldn’t notice, in fact, most people wouldn’t think he was at all. He however, had spent the morning watching him closely, he spotted only little signs. It didn’t take long for the boy to step up beside him clutching the portfolio tightly.

“What is your previous address, Mr. Potter?” Corvus queried, making it clear it wasn’t his current address and if he had any say, he would ensure it remained that way.

“It’s number four Privet Drive, Surrey,” Harry replied, anxiety crawling its way up through his stomach. “I’ll go in by myself,” he did not want Corvus Lestrange to see how bad his life had been, or what they called him on a daily basis. ‘Freak’ or ‘Boy’ were the only names he’d known until school, where he found out what his name really was.

Harry was largely unaware of just how much Corvus Lestrange was going to find out, and soon.

“Very well,” Corvus feigned agreement, that was not happening, he was going whether the boy liked it or not. He wasn’t about to let those filthy Muggles lay a single hand on the boy again. “We are going to Apparate near to Privet Drive and walk the rest of the way, once there grab everything you wish to take with you and I’ll take you to Lestrange Manor,”

Harry nodded his agreement, wondering absently if ‘Apparating’ was anything like using a Portkey.

“Apparation is different from using a Portkey, you need to remain still and allow the magic to guide you in the right direction.” Corvus explained, refraining from mentioning the minuscule chance of being splinched. He didn’t want to make the boy sick or refuse to be apparated. He definitely did not wish to travel by Knight bus, or wait around for a Portkey from the Goblins or the Ministry. As soon as he touched Harry, he cringed yet again, a pang of sympathy shot through him, had the boy ever received a gentle touch before in his life? And why was it always the most powerful of their kind that ended up abused?

Corvus kept a tight grip of Harry, without exerting too much pressure, worried he was injured under those baggy clothes of his as they apparated. As predicated, Harry stumbled a little, but the wizard did not let him fall. They were in Little Whinging, Corvus observed, as he looked around the perfectly ordinary landscape. There was nobody out this early in the morning, except an occasional jogger, or someone wandering down side streets with bags filled with groceries. The Muggle items strewn in peoples gardens were very alien to him, but he paid little to no attention to them.

“I will follow,” Corvus stated, allowing Harry to take the lead, he knew a lot of London, mostly the shopping areas where they’d been hunting down wizards and witches who were on the Dark Lord’s shit list. Most of them were Order members or those who were doing something despicable in the Ministry of Magic, such as trying to pass laws that were contemptuous. So many had already been passed as it was, adding more was just further restricting life out of people. It had steadily gotten worse in ten years since the Dark Lord wasn’t opposing the opposition. Dumbledore was slowly destroying their way of life. With the added power of Harry’s seats, nothing anyone did make one bit of difference.

The knowledge that he was going to lose that power very quickly, made Corvus very hopeful that they could at least undo some of the damage Dumbledore had done. If not, at least more damage couldn’t be piled upon top of the crumbling magical world. A lot of people were in Dumbledore’s corner, beaming at him as he made the chances not realizing what this was going to do to them long term. It made Dumbledore a very dangerous person to be around Harry, but he could do nothing, the boy wanted to attend Hogwarts. He would need to be open and honest as possible so that the child didn’t end up drawn into Dumbledore when he actually met him. He was a master manipulator, there was no way an eleven year old could possible hold his own against him.

Corvus followed Harry never once trying to hurry the pace, his mind mulling over everything. Between Dumbledore to trying to convince Harry to see a healer. Did he take Harry to St. Mungo’s and have it happen there where he had everything he might need? Or did he go and demand his healer who he kept on retainer and had done so since his wife got pregnant with Rodolphus. His healer had dealt with everything his sons needed growing up, so hopefully he’d be able to deal with anything wrong with Harry.

“You can wait here,” Harry’s firm but quiet statement brought Corvus out of his reverie only barely stopping so he didn’t bump directly into the boy.

“Very well, go ahead,” Corvus said, giving no indication that he was about to do the opposite of what Harry wished. Luckily Harry immediately had to turn a corner, which put them both out of the others sight, which meant Corvus was easily able to conceal himself, and follow the boy towards number four Privet Drive. He felt a twinge of guilt for lying to him, it wasn’t a good way to build anything up. Inhaling sharply, Corvus realized belatedly, that there were strong wards surrounding the immediate area of Harry Potter’s former home – more like prison really – and they were dark, blood magic, of course, blood wards connected to Harry’s blood. Hence why he’d been sentenced to prison here of all places, his aunt, she enforced the blood wards, which gave Harry some measure of safety and security here.

Giving the wards a few nudges to see how they’d react to his presence, he found them quite welcoming. It shouldn’t surprise anyone, he wanted to protect Harry after all. He did not wish him harm, hence the wards did not consider him a threat. Still, Corvus was wary as he stepped by them, only fully relaxing when nothing happened. Rushing forward, seeing that the boy was already walking down the pathway. He could take one step to two of Harry’s so he easily caught up, not getting too close just in case the boy was able to sense him. It may help that he wasn’t marked with the Dark Mark, he’d been with Tom since the beginning after all.

Corvus would deny it until his dying breath but the shrieking of ‘Boy’ caused him to jump in fright as he slid inside the house. Now that was hurting his eardrums.

“Wake up FREAK! I want my breakfast!” hollered an obese boy causing Corvus to gape at the sight, the boy was eating from a large tub of ice cream, watching the TV while the woman sat drinking some coffee, practically smothering the boy with affection.

“Coming,” Harry whispered quietly, staring at the cupboard biting his lip, how was he supposed to get the cupboard open? He doubted Lord Lestrange would wait forever, he had to get everything and get out of there soon. Maybe he should just grab what was upstairs and get out of there?

Corvus narrowed his eyes on the sight, evidently there was something the boy wanted out of there, drawing his wand, he non-verbally – seeing as his voice would still be heard – cast a simple ‘Alohomora’.

Then miraculously the locks clicked open causing Harry’s breath to catch, he was used to doing accidental magic, and it wasn’t the first time things had happened that he’d wanted to happen. It was however, the first time since he’d learned he was a wizard, and he didn’t hold the same fear he had back then, because he was getting the hell out of here. Giving the kitchen a fearful glance, he padded over, silently as possible unlocking the cupboard door, he slowly drew out his trunk.

Corvus who was observing everything immediately noticed ‘Harry’s bedroom’ sign as well as the pictures that were still upon the walls. Pictures he probably drew from his nightmares judging by the green glow and dark shadow he’d bet was the Dark Lord. There was also a underdeveloped picture of a giant on a flying motorcycle. Hagrid, he’d bet his money on it, so that’s how they’d gotten him out of Godric’s Hollow that night, using a bloody half-giant who couldn’t use magic. Dumbledore should consider himself lucky the full force of the Dark Lord’s armies hadn’t come swinging down on Hagrid that night. There was a lumpy mattress, a bare bulb and a few toy soldiers and crayons on a tiny shelf, it made Corvus feel rage slam into him, even House-elves got bigger accommodations than this! Well, his did at any rate, not everyone was the same but still. No wizard deserved this sort of treatment.

Swallowing down his rage, which was very painful, he followed Harry as he made his way up the stairs, somehow managing to get his trunk upstairs without making a sound. This was a boy who was used to remaining silent under any conditions. Upon entering another room, he found a new drawing, apparently Harry liked to draw and quite decently too. It was a picture of the owl that hooted immediately upon Harry’s entrance. Harry immediately put the trunk down, shushing the owl.

“Please be quiet, Hedwig,” he pleaded as he stroked the owls head through the cheap cage he’d bought. Which by the way was only designed for travel, not constantly living in.

Everything in the room was discarded in a corner, broken by the looks of it. The room itself looked vastly different from the rest of the house. All items of furniture was broken, worn down and had definitely seen better days. The bed had only a small cover, no duvet, one pillow, he’d bet the mattress was just as bad as everywhere else if he checked. Corvus watched quietly as the boy packed up clothes that were definitely from the pig downstairs. Gritting his teeth, refraining from cursing the sons of bitches downstairs, they’d get their due, he wasn’t stupid enough to leave his magical residue here, not when Dumbledore might come any given time. No, he’d let the goblins deal with these pieces of trash for now. He would not leave them alone, oh no, he would get them when they least expect it. He had contacts he’d use if necessary, that way he’d have the perfect alibi as will Harry when it is eventually done.

It was a good job Harry didn’t see the look on Corvus’ face otherwise he would have been beyond terrified. The cold clinic detached look that would give even the strongest of men pause. It was a look that spoke of ‘murder on the mind’ and that was most assuredly what Corvus did indeed have in mind.

The Dursley’s were dead, they just didn’t know it, yet.

With his wardrobe emptied, Harry closed the trunk with an inaudible click. “Come on Hedwig, let’s get you out of here,” Harry said, a small secret smile spreading across his face. One that spoke of genuine happiness and sweet relief, he was finally free. He hadn’t dreamed of this day, not for a long time, he’d felt broken, trapped in place, with no way out until he was an adult, even then he feared what would become of him. Living out on the streets wasn’t something he’d wanted. It was dark, cold and scary out there.

He hated the dark.

Corvus closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose, that was all the boy had to his name. Some tatty clothes that didn’t belong to him, and his school belongings. Elven years on this earth and that was it, he on the other hand had to prevent his sons from trying to empty the contents of their bedroom into their school trunks – and believe me there had been many attempts – not that everything fitted in.

“FREAK! GET UP I WANT MY BREKAFAST!” the obese boy was shouting again, Corvus scowled darkly, hands fisting, how he wanted to curse that little brat. He normally didn’t touch children, but he was very tempted to make an exception here. As he made his way down stairs he found the front door open just a tad. Harry had already left the premises, swiftly making his own way down, belatedly realizing he hadn’t once heard those…animals use Harry’s name. It had been boy and freak the entire time, verbal abuse was almost as bad as physical abuse, the boy probably had zero self-esteem. Another thing he’d have to rectify before September, help the boy gain some self-confidence. “MUMMY I WANT MY BREAKFAST!” the boy whined from the kitchen yet again, the door was closed, that was the only reason Harry had managed to get in and out unseen.

Corvus half wished to just go back and kill both where they sat, unable to believe they were actually treating Harry Potter like a damn House-elf. Evidently they expected him to cook breakfast, beat him up, and were verbally abusive. Quite frankly, Corvus didn’t think it could get any worse! As soon as he passed the wards surrounding Harry’s home, he apparated to his spot and removed the charm upon his person and firmly planted a mask of boredom on his face. Which by the way was more difficult than anyone could fathom.

“Did you retrieve everything?” Corvus asked, standing a bit more at attention when the boy rounded the corner, gazing expectantly for an answer, as though he didn’t already know it. “We shall not be returning here unless its absolutely vital which I hope is not the case.” If he had to go back into that house, they would die. Of that Corvus Lestrange was absolutely sure. He hated the Muggle world but not as much as he hated those particular muggles, nobody would be sorry to see them go.

Harry glanced back down towards the property, almost wishing he could get to see them with a lawyer snapping at their heels for his money. Oh, well, he should just be glad he was getting that money back. “Yes Sir,”

As an eleven year old, he had no idea the ramifications of what he was doing to the Dursleys, but it was no longer his problem. They shouldn’t have treated Harry as they did.

“Then let me show you to your new home,” Corvus said, with pride and no small amount of smugness. He was undeniably proud of Lestrange manor, it had been in his family for generations. Each new generation adding to it over the years, keeping it in the same time period so it wasn’t all mismatched. Wasn’t easy to purchase those items, but price was of no concern to them, it never had been, never would be.

Harry nodded, a tad eagerly, quite frankly looking forward to having somewhere he could call home. He just hoped he’d covered all his bases and nothing in those contracts could bite him in the ass.

One Apparation later, Harry was looking at the sight of Lestrange Manor in all its splendour.

“Y-you live here?” Harry gaped wide eyed, jaw unhinged at the sight, getting what he meant when he’d said his own suite, he certainly had the room. carefully putting Hedwig’s heavy cage atop of the trunk.

The renaissance style manor was opulent, it spoke of the immense wealth the Lestrange’s must have. They were standing beside a bridge, and a moat stretched on as far as the eye could see surrounding the manor in its entirety. The sound of animals could be heard, but Harry couldn’t see anything other than swans, the kind he’d never seen before basking in the moat.

“I do,” Corvus said proudly, he would die with this still his home, his main residence, as all other Lestranges before him – except his sons but he didn’t like to think on that – who wanted to think of their sons dying in Azkaban? He wouldn’t be even given the chance of burying them in the Lestrange crypt. No, all Azkaban prisoners were buried in a pit on the island. He’d never cared about that particular fact until his sons were facing it. It’s funny how something personally affecting you could change the way you see things. In a sad decrepit way. Flicking his wand, the trunk and birds cage disappeared. The House-elves wouldn’t know what to do with them until he informed them what he wished done with them. “Come,”

The dazed boy followed him, looking stunned and a little leery, no doubt wondering what he’d gotten himself into. Although, Harry had nothing to worry about, in time he would see that for himself. “I’ll show you around and then get something to eat, how does that sound?” Corvus making an effort not to make everything sound like a demand, he needed to help Harry become independent, especially before September.

Harry shook his head, “I’ve already eaten,” and it was true enough, he’d eaten all he could stomach at Gringotts. He was still very full, for once.

Corvus frowned, but grudgingly nodded, it had been hours since he’d eaten. “Then perhaps a hot drink?” he suggested, he’d rather the youngster was calm when he suggested bringing in a healer.

True to Corvus’ word, he showed Harry around the manor, the Grand Hall, the lounge he used – the one that was rarely used – his downstairs office, the library, and Harry’s own suite, which was a guest suite and delivered his belongings. It had been used by many Lestrange Betrothed over the years, Harry may be the only one who actually wouldn’t marry into the family. It was always an honour to be chosen and accepted by a Lestrange, they had always been good prospects for husbands by witches looking to marry. Their money coupled with their good genes made for powerful offspring. The Lestrange name had diminished somewhat due to his uncles shenanigans then his cousin – Leta – and now his sons had been the tipping point. All the good the Lestranges had done over the years was being forgotten, all they’d created, all they’d helped build, it was a damn shame.

“Would you prefer to have something to drink here?” Corvus questioned, allow the boy to become acclimated to his new surroundings?

Harry still gaping at his surroundings nodded dumbly.

Corvus bit his tongue yet again, there would be time to correct Harry’s behaviour, right now was not that time. He needed to feel comfortable, to acclimatise to his surroundings. He needed Harry to consider this place a home, wanted Harry to consider this place his home. If he loved this place he wouldn’t be so quick to abandon it, or Rabastan, four years would fly by in the blink of an eye. He wouldn’t ask for too many additional years, just a few, it was too much to ask for any teenager to put their lives on hold, especially one who was the last of his house.

“Nushala?” Corvus called out to the one of the many House-elves he had, Nushala had been his wives favourite. She’d had a soft spot for them, or as much as anyone raised around House-elves had a soft spot. She allowed the House-elves to keep their birth names, their elven names. It wasn’t usual to allow that, instead they got derisory names that were easily remembered when they were bought.

“What can Nushala do for Master Lestrange?” the diminutive thing appeared in front of them.

Harry stiffened, watching the House-elf and Corvus with suspicious watchful eyes.

“Bring up some refreshments, including a hot chocolate with something extra in it,” Corvus demanded, side eyeing Harry wondering where his thoughts were at this moment. The House-elf disappeared, and Corvus gave Harry his undivided attention. “That Harry was a House-elf, they’re magical creatures, who serve wizards and witches, having a Master is something they need, it gives them a power boost and gives them purpose.”

“They’re slaves,” Harry asked, looking sick to his stomach.

“Servants,” Corvus corrected him, “They have their own rooms, and have unlimited supply of food and in turn they clean and keep the house tidy,” in his opinion it was a fair trade. Considering how much it cost to buy one definitely a fair trade.

“That’s what the Dursley’s thought of me,” Harry said, green eyes filled with fire.

Corvus said nothing, there was not a thing he could say for Harry to understand right now. Given how he’d been treated, it was hardly surprising that he was sympathetic towards House-elves. Given time, as he read through all things available about the magical world he would begin to understand why House-elves needed Masters. He added a book on creatures to the never ending list of books it was vital that Harry read for his own educational purposes.

The House-elf did not return, but the polished silver platter almost the same size as the table appeared. Filled with triangle sandwiches, biscuits, a silver teapot with the Lestrange crest on it and delicate fine china and a goblet with the same crest on it filled with hot chocolate. Corvus moved over to sit down, leaving the chair nearest the fire for Harry to sit at. “Come sit,” Corvus suggested, “We have a lot to discuss,” handing over the hot chocolate, no doubt the young boy would like it.

“Like what?” Harry asked, sitting down distrustful to the bone. Between the House-elf, the talk of ‘discussing’ things, it never usually went well for him when his aunt and uncle wanted to ‘talk’ it usually ended up with a beating.

“Seeing a healer,” Corvus didn’t beat around the bush, it wasn’t in his nature to do so.

“No,” Harry shook his head in denial immediately, he was not going to a healer, he didn’t want to see a Doctor. The smell of the hot chocolate wafting from the goblet enticed him to drink it.

“Mr. Potter…” Corvus said, sounding as exasperated as he felt. “Do you want to remain in pain when someone can come here and make it go away? For your health, especially for your future health, please allow me to call upon my healer. It is private, healers have sworn vows which result in death if broken, nobody will know the results, and I will be there the entire time.” Not sure whether that would make it a deal breaker or not, he just didn’t know what could be bothering the boy. He hadn’t spent enough time in his company to know best how to get him to agree to something. “I can remain outside if you desire privacy.” He added albeit grudgingly, if he was getting through to him, he had to make sure to give him options. To make it seem as if he had a choice, which would stop the fighting on a healer make him focus on his other choices. At least it hard worked that way with his sons when they were younger.

Harry blinked, “Okay,” he murmured in agreement, feeling calmer about the impending visit from a doctor of all things. In fact, he was calmer full stop, but he had a place to stay, he was out from under the Dursleys and Dumbledore’s control.

Corvus felt a twinge of something in his gut at giving Harry a calming draught without his knowledge. It wasn’t guilt, but it was something. He didn’t dwell on it, this was for Harry’s own good. He needed to see someone, and if he was panicked and worried about things he shouldn’t be, it would just get worse. Who knows what sort of injuries the boy was concealing. Hopefully it was just aches and pains from old bruises and not broken bones, those weren’t easily or painlessly fixed. Relief swooped through his gut when he had Harry’s agreement, cementing his decision to give him the calming draught.

“Then lets see if she’s available,” Corvus replied, yes, she, his wife felt more comfortable with a female healer to see to her. Hopefully Harry would feel the same way. “Drink up, I’ll be back in a few moments,” you couldn’t Floo or Floo call anyone from the guest bedroom, only his office, his property was very secure for that reason. Perhaps given time, when Harry had made friends and acquaintances he may allow for Floo calling to be installed in the guest bedroom.

As he wandered away from the guest bedroom, he felt a sense of accomplishment he hadn’t felt since his sons had been taken from him. He didn’t feel useless or desperate, for the first time in a decade he felt content. It was a novel experience that he almost felt bowled over by it. He did not let it, instead he walked towards his office, swiftly, a small glow settling into his stomach.

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Twenty minutes had gone by since Corvus had left, not that Harry was concerned, he was too busy looking around the massive room. Peering into every door to see what it was. One door led to a massive closet with drawers, rows of poles and arrangements clearly for clothes. His entire closet could have fitted in here ten times. Of course, there was nothing in here yet. there was even a dozen or so hooks for what he assumed was cloaks? Who had that many? He’d bought two, a summer and winter cloak. The second door at the opposite side of the room held a to die for bathroom, a huge monster of a rub, with claw feet, a walk in shower, and the usual amenities. Then there was the bedroom, that dominated the entire room, done tastefully in black, with only a bedside table at each side.

As he walked, Harry realized it could remain private, as there were doors that closed it off into a living room that housed a large bookcase of books a sofa and seats as well as two tables, one he and Corvus had been sitting at. There was only one other door, and it led outside, to a balcony, that too had table and chairs set out. The view…was incredible, he was at the back of the house, and he could see dozens of outhouses and could faintly hear the sound of animals – which he hadn’t been able to hear inside – magic he suspected.

“Enjoying the view? Spectacular isn’t it?” Corvus asked causing Harry to jump at the sound, whirling around.

“It’s beautiful,” Harry admitted, he couldn’t believe this was all his, it was still sinking in.

“This is Millicent Flint, she’s a healer, Healer Flint, may I introduce you to Harry Potter?” Corvus did the introductions.

Harry felt himself relax when there was no change to her demeanour.

“Mr. Potter,” she said, giving a nod. Thankfully Corvus had already explained everything to her so she didn’t act dramatically to the boy being here amongst the Dark Lord’s staunchest of supporters. She supported the dark, of course, as did the rest of her family, but she had first and foremost swore a vow never to do harm. There was a reason there was never a healer been outed as a Death Eater. She had lost a lot of respect for the Dark Lord though, killing children wasn’t done, hadn’t been done. Until that night. “I’ll start with a strictly non-evasive scan, which only requires for you to stand in front of me while I cast the spell. So if you don’t mind standing right here,” placing her large emergency carry kit on the floor and removing her wand, her stance and expression extremely professional.

Corvus moved so he was standing beside the fire, his hands clasped behind him. Close enough to see them both and hear them, but not interfering with her work.

Harry sighed resignedly, deciding to get it over with, he padded over and stood in front of the woman. Tensing slightly out of habit when her hands came within his line of sight, but she didn’t touch him. Instead he got to watch as she waved her wand in an intricate way, smooth and practiced like she’d done it a million times before. His eyes lit up when he began to glow red, as magic evaded his body and then mesmerizingly, paper began to shoot out of her wand.

Giving him a soothing smile, she grabbed the end, slightly amused at how long it was getting, but only for a moment. Then disbelief begin to take over as it steadily gained size. Glancing at Corvus in silent alarm, setting her face into what she hoped was a slight smile, but more like a grimace really as she watched it. Finally, finally, it stopped and it took Millicent a few moments to gather herself before she slid her wand away and looked at the results.

Corvus straightened up at Millicent’s loss of composure, he’d seen her save someone’s life without even so much as a frown. To see her reacting this way, Corvus’ heart sank, he knew before he received all his answers that he wasn’t going to like what was to come. Had he been stupid to let those Muggles live?

Swallowing thickly as she saw the results, this was just a basic scan, and look at all it found. She wanted to believe it was just a malfunction or some such thing. Unfortunately or fortunately, she knew better than to think that. She needed to do the Enarratio Genus scan immediately. Breathing evenly, she plucked out a rune stone and the parchment and used the spell to set it up. She was glad she brought this with her, she didn’t expect to need it though.

“I need you both to sign this, I’m about to perform the Enarratio Genus ritual, and that requires consent,” Millicent, adding the last part mainly for Harry, Corvus was well aware of how rarely Enarratio Genus ritual was used. Seeing the cautious look, she added, “Using someone’s blood is always sacred, Mr. Potter, it requires consent and careful monitoring, blood can be used for nefarious things. In fact, despite all the book blood magic can do, it’s all considered illegal except this ritual, and it’s only because it was created by Merlin himself.” who was revered by the masses, nobody would mess with that image and so it was kept.

Corvus pursed his lips, yes, that ritual definitely confirmed his suspicions.

Both of them signed the permission slip, “I do not need to warn you that this must be kept at the utmost secure location?” he warned her, his and Harry’s signature would unveil everything and he did not want that. At least not yet, depending on how Harry felt about it given time.

“You have my word,” Millicent agreed, she kept her records very secure, in a safe under the Fidelius charm and only she and her very loyal House-elf knew its location and ‘secret’ as it were.

“Good, then let us proceed, I am going to use a spell to prick your finger, and one drop of blood will be placed here,” Millicent explained, gesturing towards the smooth round stone, that had a large rune etched into it. “It’s the best scan we have at detecting all problems, so that I can give you the best care possible.” Finding it difficult to remain professional, how was the boy still standing? From the basics of what she’d just read it shouldn’t be possible.

Harry nodded, putting out his left hand and letting her use a spell to prick his finger, a drop of blood oozed up and the healer pressed it against the stone. The rune immediately begun to blow blue then white, it was almost blinding, then Harry observed black calligraphed words scrawling itself in neat rows, on and on it went. Harry squinted, noticing his name, address, his parents, people he didn’t know was added to the list. Including a one Sirius Black as godfather. Then to his amazement, the parchment continued to grow as the pages were filled, he’d never stop being amazed by magic.

Millicent breathed evenly, steeling herself, as she claimed a seat looking over everything, this…this looked like the diagnosis of a one hundred year old battle hardened Auror…not an eleven year old boy. She almost didn’t know where to start if she was one hundred percent honest with herself.

“Why don’t we sit over here? The coffee and tea is still warm, and there is plenty of food while you look everything over,” Corvus suggested, but as always his suggestions were always demands. Beginning to realize that this was going to be a very long day, he didn’t think he’d get a chance to write to the Ministry regarding the recent Betrothal today.

“That sounds wonderful,” Millicent agreed, leaving everything but the paperwork where it was at and sat after Corvus did, Harry she noticed soon followed looking slight amused and lost. She didn’t offer to give Harry a pain relieving draught, she had no idea how many potions she was going to have to give him. She knew the list was going to be a long one, and she’d need to make sure they didn’t interfere with one another. Then there was the fact she had no idea if he was allergic to anything. Harry had not been in the magical world since he was a young baby, thankfully he’d been inoculated against both Muggle and magical illnesses. So, she had a base in point at least.

“Milk, sugar?” Corvus asked her, as he prepared their brews.

“Just milk for me, thank you,” Millicent replied, she was cutting down on her sugar intake, considering how today was going to go, “In fact, one cube of sugar might be a good idea.”

Corvus added the milk and sugar before passing it over, Harry had settled down with his hot chocolate again, already looking less anxious. He sat back observing both his guests as he drank from his own dark coffee. Having to refrain from tapping at the table with his fingers. Such shows of irritation or impatience had long ago been hidden.

His mind mulling over whom to get the potions he’d need for Harry, but it was no contest really, he already had the best brewing for him on occasion when he required them. Severus Snape was the best, not to forget the youngest Potions Master. He would not be informing him of this…information, just a simple transaction. Severus was much too close to Dumbledore and he didn’t dare risk it getting back to the old fool. He wasn’t sure which side Severus was on, the same could be said of everyone, as they had all abandoned the dark as a lost cause after the Dark Lord was defeated. Pretended they hadn’t fought alongside each other, trying to better the magical world. Even Lucius had claimed bewitchment, he understood why, no sane wizard or witch for that matter desired to end up within the confines of Azkaban.

It was shameful to admit, but he too would have done the same thing. It would do no good if he ended up in Azkaban alongside his sons after all.

 

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Thank you to everyone who gave all those suggestions on problems Harry will face due to his 'neglect' as it were! It will definitely help make the next chapter more realistic! Disappointed nothing happened to the Dursley's? If so would you rather see them alive and suffering OR dead and buried when Corvus realises just what those animals have done to Harry Potter? Do you want to see the conversation between Corvus and the healer? Or will we just see the results of it with Corvus perhaps talking to Rabastan in a weeks' time? Or will we see more of Harry settling in before it's time for Hogwarts and his conversations with Rabastan? Getting more used to Corvus before we push the plot ahead? As for the suggestion that Neville be a Lestrange…it won't be anything 'wrong' or 'evil' just a simple mix up so to speak…Will Severus be light and change when it comes apparent that Harry wishes to join the dark? Or will he be secretly longing to rejoin his 'brethren' so to speak but trapped in a vow he'd made while he was grieving for a good friend? Will this be the main reason of Severus' agnostic nature along with the little fact Harry is James Potter's son? How long would it take for Corvus to interfere if that is the case? Or will he help Harry manipulate the situation to his advantage? Still stuck on whether he's a Ravenclaw or a Slytherin :P Read and Review please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 6

To say the room was grim would be doing it a disservice, Corvus thought to himself, his dark eyes gleaming with anger and suppressed wrath. Despite how warm the room was, with the fire going, he and Millicent were cold to the bone. The healer had just done a physical examination on Harry, the scars that littered the teen...the wounds, the unnatural angle some of his fingers were at, he didn’t need to read the results to know at least a few of his bones were broken. The scars…Merlin, he felt sick to his stomach, sure he could torture an adult without breaking sweat, but this…this was an innocent child, and it was done by filthy Muggles.

Harry had put his clothes back on, sat down and was now staring at the floor in rapt fascination. Cheeks red, presumably in embarrassment and shame, at having his secrets laid bare to someone – let alone two someone’s – yes he can imagine how it felt. Yet, Corvus did not want that to continue, he wanted Harry to trust him enough to be able to confide in him about anything. “Those beasts will pay with their lives, Mr. Potter, believe me,” unable to help the bloodthirsty declaration coming out of his mouth.

Harry’s head jerked up to meet his, eye to eye with the Lord Lestrange, he knew right from wrong, murder was wrong, but so was abuse and nobody had done anything about that. Even at eleven, the thought of the Dursley’s paying for what they did to him filled him with savage gleefulness. He couldn’t deny that he had thought of them dying so many times over the years. Almost as much as he’d dreamed of being rescued, but the reality had set in, he was never going to be rescued, there was nobody to rescue him. Nobody gave a damn. In the end he’d rescued himself with some help from the Goblins and this wizard sitting in front of him. Who was helping him more than was needed, giving him a place to stay. Someone actually wanted to murder on his behalf, unless of course, Corvus was using that as an excuse to do what he wanted. Still, the thought that someone was angry enough to want to deal with the Dursley’s meant more to him than he could express.

Corvus had worried his words would have scared the young boy, but far from it. Apparently it’s exactly what Harry needed to hear to trust him a little more. Not that he was reading much upon the child’s face, he had a blank mask firmly in place, no doubt harnessed over his horrific childhood in order to survive. His eyes gave him away, the dark green glint he could see, that could turn him into a beast, but thankfully Corvus didn’t want that. Instead what he wanted was Harry’s loyalty and by the looks of it, he was on his way to gaining that and much more.

Millicent coughed discreetly, she definitely didn’t want to hear any of that, even if those animals deserved it.

“Repair the damages done to Mr. Potter, everything, I don’t care for the cost,” Lord Lestrange wrapped himself up in his prestige, despite the fact there was no need for it here. It was more out of habit than any true desire to lord it over Millicent, who was a magnificent healer and also a good friend. He could trust her even without the healer vows in place.

“It will be costly,” Millicent said quietly, the rune work sat on the table in front of her, “He’s going to need a lot of potions for the next year in order to repair the damage done to him.”

“A year?” Corvus questioned, not sure why he was surprised. “How vital is it that the Medi-witch at Hogwarts be informed of his potion intake?” he definitely did not wish to inform Madam Pomfrey, she unlike the healers hadn’t been bound by oaths and vows to uphold patient confidentiality. Which meant if they told her, she would inform Dumbledore and he didn’t want the old fool knowing anything about Harry.

“The reality is, she should be informed, especially if anything happens while he’s there,” Millicent explained, “She has to know everything about him in order to prevent an accidental overdose or giving him something that negatively reacts to something else he’s taken. You’re best bet is to get your own oath from her, prevent her from revealing anything about Harry and ensuring that his file is secured so she cannot just leave it lying for someone to find or in case Dumbledore goes looking.” Knowing well enough to realize what was bothering Corvus, it’s the same thing that would have bothered them all.

Corvus grimaced in distaste, disliking the idea of her knowing anything about his ward. “Then that is something to discuss later,” they had a month to decide on what to do regarding the likes of Dumbledore and Pomfrey.

“To start with food, he will need to take regular anti-nausea potions with his meals, which I would recommend him having eight meals spread throughout the day. His stomach won’t tolerate regular meals, so smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. Now he will need reminded to eat, even if you don’t want to Harry, you must. He won’t even realize he’s hungry due to the damage done over the years. His body signs will be completely overlooked. Due to the starvation he will have stunted growth, he may never get as tall as he should have been given the proper nourishment. We will of course, try to fix that, with a nutrition potion, but it’s not guaranteed to work, unfortunately the damage has been done to the extent that even magic cannot fix wholly.” Millicent spoke to both of them as she explained the situation. “Foods such as porridges, fruits, vegetables will be best, try to avoid anything overly sugary otherwise I fear he would be sick. Keep him well hydrated, he’s suffering from dehydration but it’s not dangerously so.”

Corvus pursed his lips as he listened, understanding Harry’s earlier denial when it came to food, a month he had to get Harry back onto a scheduled balanced diet. He rather hoped he had enough time with Harry to see all this through. “I see, I shall also inform the House-elves,” he would not be forgotten.

“His bones due to his starvation will be brittle and weak, I would recommend a physical exercise regimen, the workout plan will give him strength and purpose. A lot of milk along with a bone strengthening solution will do the trick, it will cause you to feel tight and uncomfortable, aches and pains, which might make you have no desire to do the physical workouts, but to strengthen them you must.” Millicent explained, pulling information out of her case and handing it over, a juvenile workout chart, as they spoke, more information was added to it for Harry. “Try and prevent any falls, which I will expect due to his dizzy spells.”

“Dizzy spells?” Corvus questioned curtly, he hadn’t seen any sign of dizzy spells, why would the young boy have dizzy spells?

“Harry is suffering from a severe iron deficiency, it’s called anaemia. His body has went into survival mode, channelling oxygen to protect the vital organs. That is why his hair is brittle, dry mouth, his nails are effected as well. He is suffering from fatigue and dizziness is also a symptom of that, and many other things he’s currently suffering from.” Millicent explained, “This potion is quite disgusting to take, and causes headaches and sweats, but it must be taken otherwise his organs can shut down and he will die.” giving the blunt uncensored truth. “If you had not brought me here today…I’m not sure he would have survived three more years without the proper medical treatments.”

Harry cringed and tried to make himself smaller on the seat, feeling like his entire world was being attacked endlessly. He hadn’t realized the results of what the Dursley’s had done to him was so bad. Hearing what she was saying, he felt more than a little bit of gratitude to Corvus. The Dursley’s had been slowly killing him over the past ten years.

Yet more potions wrote itself across the pad of paper with her quill, adding to the seemingly endless list of potions he’d have to take.

“The starvation was severe and prolonged enough it could have had serious long term effects on his internal organs. From severe ulcers, cardiac arrhythmia, shrunken stomach, diseases affecting his internal organs, autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal disturbances, hypersensitivity to light or noise and slowed cognitive function.” Millicent explained. “He does have a compromised immune system meaning he will get sick more easily and be far less able to fight off any and all kinds of illnesses whether it be bacterial or viral infections.” That wasn’t all though, but it was going to take all afternoon to get through the list.

Corvus didn’t think he could go any paler, “Mr. Potter do you feel any of these compromises the healer has spoken of?”

“The light hurts my eyes,” Harry confessed, “It was alright when I was in my cupboard but coming out always hurts.” Was that hypersensitivity to light?

“Mr. Potter…were you ever struck over the head?” Millicent enquired, grim and professional.

Harry swallowed thickly, “My aunt doesn’t like touching me, she always uses something to hit me, normally on the head,” absently touching the worst of the ones, “Even with a frying pan a few times because I burnt the bacon.”

Millicent breathed in a shape inhale of breath, almost trembling in rage, her own desire for vigilante justice rising to the forefront of her being. She wanted to hunt those animals down and kill them, hitting him for burning bacon? Merlin, help her she didn’t want to hear anymore. “Did you experience any…temporarily blindness afterwards?”

Harry nodded just once not wishing to remember how so utterly terrified he’d been during those instances.

“From what I’ve seen of your records from when you were a baby, you did not have eye problems, your sight was perfect. I believe the lack of Vitamin A and the knocks on the head have caused your degenerative eyesight over the years. It will take time, but as your body is corrected we might be able to give you the potion to correct your eye sight and give you independence from glasses not that they’re the correct prescription for you. Which I have no doubt are adding to further headaches on your part.” Millicent explained, gritting her teeth over the unfairness of what had been done to Harry. She couldn’t promise him perfect sight, the damage done to him…it might not be corrected, she’d need to see him again in order to correctly deduce that in a year or so she’d say. There were more vital potions required for Harry to take. He hadn’t had the Potter gene for bad eyesight when he was a baby like the others before him.

“I might not need glasses anymore?” Harry perked up at that, he couldn’t even see properly with them on so the thought of not needing them was great.

“I shall visit you next summer and give you a definitive answer on that front,” Millicent promised, and it was a promise she’d keep, giving Corvus a look to indicate she would be too. He nodded subtly giving her permission and understanding on that front.

Harry nodded looking happy with the promise.

“Mr. Potter also has a mild form of Rickets, something not often seen in Britain certainly hasn’t been one in the magical world for decades.” Millicent explained, “It causes bone fractures, and there are many of them, along with broken bones, his hands particularly.” He must have got enough Vitamin D from the ages of 5 upwards to prevent the more severe case such as bone deformities. She would bet she had the Muggle primary school to thank that Harry wasn’t deformed. The pain he must be in though had to be severe, it caused spinal, pelvis and leg pain, it was a miracle he could walk at all. His pain tolerance had to be through the roof.

Corvus wanted nothing more than to scream and curse and throw everything that wasn’t glued down in his vicinity.

“As for the rashes on Mr. Potter a salve will be all that’s required to treat them, he will need help with the ones on his back.” Millicent explained, she hadn’t seen such a severe case of child abuse in all her years as a healer. “A bruise salve will be prescribed as well.”

“I will also prescribe a full course of antibiotics and he must drink at least three litres of water or milk a day, his kidney’s are not functioning to their highest capacity.” Which of course, affected the rest of the organs, they all needed to be in top notch form to work harmoniously together. “This is his dietary requirement, it must be followed to the letter.” Let’s see, dietary requirements, physical regimen, and the potions and how often to taken and when.

“And his scars?” Corvus demanded, eyes flashing darkly, promising death and retribution, for once Millicent didn’t feel pity for the poor souls, they deserved everything that was coming their way.

“The potion for that would interfere with the others, badly,” Millicent explained seriously, “I would recommend instead something added to a bath it would heal him over time. The more he bathes the lighter the wounds will get, it shouldn’t take any longer than three weeks for them to heal up completely.”

“They will all disappear?” Corvus asked, wondering if his relief was to be short lived?

“They should,” Millicent replied, “There are a few that are very deep, they may remain, the skin tissue added with its age, it will be a thin silvery line, nothing too noticeable, unless of course, know it’s there.” It was the best she could promise and offer them. Another potion scribbled itself down on the large list of requirements.

Corvus had a sudden desire to ask her if there would be any interference with all these potions he was taking. Worried about Harry and the potential effects they have together, but she knew her potions, she would not give him anything that would have severe reactions. Side effects were probably guaranteed, and he’d probably see them himself over the course of the next month. Pain relivers mixed with muscle relaxants was also on the list. “The broken bones?” not seeing any bone mending draughts on the list.

“That will be given first, unfortunately nothing else can be taken with it, the best thing for Harry is to sleep through it.” Millicent informed him, she had a feeling the pain of re-growing his bones wouldn’t even bother him. “The Skele-Gro will be the only thing that he can have for the first twenty-four hours giving you enough time to have these brewed by your preferred potions brewer.”

“Skele-Gro? You’re intending on removing the bones instead of healing them?” Corvus winced, he wouldn’t wish that on anyone, horrible stuff, and the pain was debilitating.

“Removing what?” Harry’s voice was high pitched as he realized what they were taking about.

“His bones are in such a brittle state, that rebreaking them will do more damage, and the potion only mends them, it cannot reset them if they’ve healed wrongly.” Millicent explained, “Quite frankly he has the bones of a sixty year old, I’ve seen veteran Aurors with less damage, no, he is better off having them removed completely and starting anew.”

“Removing my bones?” Harry whispered, staring at his hands which were misshapen due to the breaks he could still vividly remember getting. “You’re all insane.” How can his bones be removed and then rebuilt again? Just what the hell kind of magic was that?

“It will hurt, a little physical therapy and you’re good to go, right now I bet it hurts to hold anything in your hand…and downright agonising to write anything isn’t that correct? What do you think you’ll be doing at Hogwarts? Mr. Potter? This pain is merely for twelve to twenty-four hours, whereupon your broken bones will be removed and the potion will give you new ones, and you’ll no longer be in pain. It will be worth it, and within a year, all those aches and pains will be completely gone as well, as we repaired your body best as we were able.” Millicent explained, “You’ll need to trust that I have the best in mind for you.”

“How many bones are we talking?” Corvus asked, he hadn’t seen the full results of the scans, and quite frankly hearing about it was bad enough he didn’t want to see it written down. He would though, he’d force himself to read through everything. He needed to understand and see the severity of it, to remember it, especially when he finally went after those filthy Muggles. They would pay for each and every transgression that lined Harry’s broken body.

“There are ninety-nine bones in total that need removing, bearing in mind that fifty-four of them are the bones in his hands, between the carpel bones proximal, intermediate and distal bones.” They’d been crushed, years ago, how Harry had endured it so far was anyone’s guess. “The pain he will go through re-growing them is significant less than what he’s endured for the past few years.”

“Does he need to eat something before taking the potion?” Corvus asked, taking charge. Skele-Gro wasn’t on the list, so he couldn’t see whether it was recommended to feed before or after the potion. The rest of the potions were all listed with possible side-effects, and how many times a day they’re to be given and how much.

“No, it’s recommended they not eat, it can make you feel a little sick, but any time after its consumed, then that’s perfectly fine.” Millicent informed him.

“Would you prefer to have a bath before we do this, Mr. Potter?” Corvus asked, once again giving Harry small options that had no significant bearing on what was going on. Enough to let him feel as though he had some control over his life. After being stifled by the Dursley’s he was probably looking forward to doing his own thing. Until he was one hundred percent recovered he didn’t want Harry on his own too much. Not with the talk of dizzy spells, needing reminders to eat and every single side effect these potions could have on him.

“That sounds…” Harry looked at a loss for words, “Wonderful,” he was never allowed a bath at the Dursleys, he usually cleaned in the sink and if he got too dirty then it was the hose for him.

“Ah, here, put this in the bath,” Millicent said, standing up rummaging through her case, “It’s a combination of a muscle relaxant and scar reducer, it’s rather quite soothing.” it wasn’t much but it would do until Corvus managed to get everything he needed. It was merely a tester, she passed out to those who might need it.

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“Fire Whiskey,” Corvus said, handing over the drink as he reclaimed his seat, Harry was safe enough in the bath, he’d placed upon the bath a spell to prevent him being able to go under water. “Tell me, will the potions be able to repair all the harm done to him?” his tone grim, eyes once more flashing with menace.

“Repair yes, but some of the damage is too severe to ever be fully corrected, it will affect the quality of his life down the line,” Millicent revealed honestly, “Old age isn’t going to be kind to him, but with potions it won’t be too badly disrupted.”

“Blasted stupid old fool,” Corvus hissed under his breath, gulping down half the drink, inhaling sharply at the sting.

“I trust they will suffer?” Millicent stated calmly, giving Corvus a look of approval at the quick and efficient nod of his head.

“Damn right they will, and Harry started off the game,” Corvus said, a wicked smirk appearing on his face.

“Oh?” Millicent perked up, silently demanding answers from the elder wizard.

“Mm, the goblins are going after them for every single Sickle they took from Harry for his ‘care’ while he was there, which has been wholly neglected.” Corvus revealed, “I would like to be there to see it myself, but alas, there are things more important than that.”

“And what will you do should the Dark Lord return?” Millicent questioned, shoulders tense.

Corvus pursed his lips, “I’m afraid I’ll have to cross that bridge when it comes to it,” he revealed honestly, but he knew deep in his heart that he’d never be able to harm Harry. He’d been through too much as it was, he couldn’t allow the Dark Lord to add more to it. Although, if he grew up and begun fighting for the light side and the Muggles…well, there wasn’t much Corvus could do in that respect. “I pray that the boy can become…at the very least neutral.” He couldn’t see the boy joining the light side and the Muggles not after what had happened to him. He’d been surprised in the past, so he’d wait and see.

“After what he’s been through, it wouldn’t be farfetched,” Millicent put forth, sipping her drink, she certainly needed it, that and more. She couldn’t discuss this with anyone else either.

“One can only hope,” Corvus replied, clinking his glass against the healers and downing the rest of the glass. He’d been drinking for years, so it didn’t even give him much of a buzz anymore. It was too bad, he could really use more, but until he knew what Harry would and wouldn’t react negatively towards he should probably refrain from drinking overly much. He would need to be wary of a lot of things, at least until he was more settled and less likely to panic or flee.

“I hope he’s alright in there,” Millicent said, glancing at the closed doorway to the bathroom, where Harry had disappeared into over twenty-five minutes ago now.

“He’s fine,” Corvus stated firmly, “Given the way he reacted I don’t believe he’s had the pleasure of a long soak in a tub.” He could think of no other reason for his wonderment and childish look of enjoyment. It had surprised him, to see the look of childish joy on the face that had thus far been far too serious.

Millicent looked sharply at Corvus, shaking her head in silent disgust. “I can’t believe I’m saying this…but don’t make it too quick.”

“I won’t,” Corvus insisted vindictively.

“Shall we go over everything now?” gesturing towards the instructions. She preferred verbally informing her patients – or patients families – rather than just notes, so she knew they understood and could ask any questions. She’d begun that after several follow ups due to their ignorance on potions, it’s when she’d changed how she did things.

Corvus waved his hand, giving her permission to go ahead, the alcohol had settled his stomach, all the bones in his hands…perhaps he should give a set of these findings to the Gringotts goblins, make sure they took it as seriously as possible. Goblins didn’t care much for wizards, they made a few exceptions…and Harry was clearly one of those exceptions. It helped given who he was, and how much money he’d come into when he was fifteen years old.

Hell, he had more than some of the pureblood’s in his trust vault alone, which was amusing to say the least but the Potter’s had always been inventive to say the least. Always made sure to create something or design something or work even, to keep replenishing the Potter coffers. James Potter though definitely had not, he’d never worked a day in his life, and if rumour was to be believed, he’d kept Sirius Black and Remus Lupin going as well. Far too liberal with his money, without the means in which to replace it. They’d died in Godric’s Hollow, far too small for Potter’s taste, he assumed it was down to Evans that they’d gone there. After keeping him going, housing him, Black had betrayed the Potter’s, which still stunk something foul to this day. The lack of trial, the quick shutdown of the press, no lawyer, he’d been stuck in Azkaban and lost to the system. Without any other Black left to defend him – his father much too sick and his mother was too vindictive to help Sirius after he left the family – he’d been left for dead. Who else though would James Potter trust with his family other than Black? He had no other family, Black was as close as he’d get by blood.

Closing those thoughts down, he paid attention when Millicent spoke, taking care to memorise everything.

----0

Petunia was seething when she found the damn bedroom empty of anything belonging to the freak. To make matters worse, she’d been forced to cook breakfast, lunch and was now making dinner for them. Vernon would be in a hell of a mood when he realized the boy was gone. So to try and smooth the ruffled feathers, she was making his favourite, pot roast, with all the fixings. While it cooked she made sure the house was done just the way he liked it, Vernon was very specific in how he liked the house. He always demanded it spick and span, anything less could set him off in one of his angry tirades.

Of course, as clean as he preferred the house, he would never clean after himself, in fact she didn’t think he knew how to turn on the hoover. Seeing the mess she’d left on the worktops, she quickly began to load the dishwasher with everything she’d used and turn it on. Cleaning the worktops of the gravy and vegetable residue.

“PET!” Vernon called as he entered the house.

Petunia wiped one last time, giving a firm nod, “In here,” she called out, “Welcome home! Do you want a drink?” knowing he liked a bourbon after a hard day of work. Whiskey for the worst of days but he rarely had those, he was good at his job and that’s why he was promoted quite often.

“Whiskey,” Vernon bellowed back, heaving himself onto the chair, grunting contently as he switched on the TV. Acting as though he’d had a hard days work, and barely had a second off his feet. When in reality he was mostly calling people on the phone or having meetings, and for most part sitting on his backside, eating the large lunches his wife had made for him which consisted of mostly unhealthy sweets and crisps.

“Coming right up!” Petunia said, peering around the door to give him a sympathetic smile as she went to retrieve his drink. It came out more of a grimace, really, it was going to be a very long night. Perhaps she could get away without telling him about the boy tonight.

The doorbell went as Petunia handed over the drink.

“Who the blasted hell is that? If it’s those stupid door-to-door salesmen tell them to get a proper job!” Vernon hollered loudly, shaking his head, gulping down the drink and sighing back into the chair. He’d had his boss on his ass all day, he wasn’t best pleased.

Petunia ignored her husband, making her dress more presentable, she opened the door with a smile on her face. “Can I help you?” it slid off seeing the severe look on the man’s face. He was very intimidating, exuded menacing in every pore of his body.

“Petunia Dursley nee Evans?” Petunia flinched at the tone, “Yes, I am she, can I help you?” she asked again, closing her door a little, feeling very wary.

“My name is Jackson Castle I’m a High Court Enforcement officer, we’re here to collect…” Jackson didn’t get a chance to finish.

“You must be mistaken,” Petunia stated curtly, “We do not owe anyone anything,” and that was the truth, they paid back all they owed, they had enough money to see them living a very comfortable life. “Now please leave.” She did not want her neighbours seeing this, it was utterly humiliating, just think of what they’d be saying about her and her family.

“The paperwork is here, if you do not pay what is owed, we will begin removing items from the premises as well as taking the house,” Jackson retorted sharply, putting his foot against the door to prevent her from closing it on him. He was legally within his right to enter the premises and she nor anyone else could stop him. “Stop trying to close the door,” he cautioned her.

“Get out of my house or I shall call the authorities!” Petunia shrieked, furious and embarrassed in equal measures.

“Call them, they will tell you the same thing I am, I have the right to be here, now please calm down, read over the paperwork,” Jackson informed her, trying to calm her down. “Pay it and we will be on our way…we would rather not leave you homeless by taking your house to repay the debt.” The house was actually more than the asking price for the debt, not a lot, maybe a hundred thousand would be left afterwards.

“What the blazes is going on out here?” Vernon roared as he rounded the living room and into the hallway, his bulk making it impossible to see past him.

“Sir, My name is Jackson Castle, I’m a High Court Enforcement Officer…” Jackson turned to him, trying to explain only to be cut off yet again.

“Get out of my property!” Vernon hollered, “Before I call the police!”

Jackson nodded at his partner, informing him that to call the police, it looked like they’d need them. Neither one of them looked as though they were going to budge.

“…High Court Enforcement Offering here….obstructing our job…” Jackson heard some of the words his partner was sharing over the phone to the police force. “Fifteen minutes,” was whispered back, somehow Jackson managed to hear him despite the vulgar language pouring out of Vernon’s mouth.

“How is anyone supposed to afford that?!” Vernon blustered when the saw the total amount of the debt, he did not create.

£299,000

It was actually more than they’d gotten from Harry over the years, but the goblins had successfully secured interest on top of it, and a little compensation. Which was easily got when they saw the abuse Harry Potter had suffered. It paid to have magic on your side, otherwise this would have taken months to achieve, even years. Some would call it cheating but the goblins didn’t care nor did anyone else involved.

“Vernon, Vernon the neighbours!” Petunia whispered theatrically, pointing to the outside where their neighbours were coming out to their doors, watching the spectacle her husband was making of himself. Whether they got this sorted or not, she just may have to move, she couldn’t stand the thought of being so thoroughly mortified.

“Fuck the neighbours, Pet! Have you seen what they want from us?!” Vernon shrieked having completely lost his cool. The thought of losing his home was completely triggering a mental breakdown. The sound of police sirens did not help that crumbling loss of control. “STOP THAT!” he shrieked at the Enforcement officer, who was taking pictures of their home with his camera phone.

“Calm down, Sir,” the police were now there trying to calm the situation down. “We don’t want to arrest you for obstructing and breach of the peace,”

Unfortunately, if anything that enraged Vernon further, and he took a swing at the officer, who swiftly grasped a hold of his hand and twisted it around his back. Slamming him against the staircase, and cuffing him. Reading him his rights as he bundled the man into the back seat of the police car. He was still spewing profanities as the officer walked away from him and the car. He would have let him go if he hadn’t tried to take a swing at him, assaulting a police officer was a big no-no.

For the next three hours Jackson and his partner, Dean Heughan tried to talk to Petunia, find out if she could afford to pay the debt, or if she could get someone else to help her. Petunia called a few people, Marge was one of her first port of calls, but she did not have anywhere near the kind of funds to help them out of the hole. The High Court Enforcement Officers called the office to find out if they’d accept what they had in the bank and a payment plan for the rest, an affordable five hundred pound a month, but the office came back with the negative reply, they wanted the money for the debt immediately.

In the end the officers had to urge Petunia to gather some of their things to last a few days, medication, clothes, and things they’d need. While they took the house as repayment for the debt owed. Stating that the house would be locked down, she could come back for the rest of their belongings in two or three days. By that time a locksmith had installed new locks in the house, which would prevent them getting back inside.

By the time it was over, her property seized, Petunia had a few bags of items, staring at her locked up dream home, wondering what on earth had happened. While her husband was locked up in jail for the night after assaulting a police officer, obstructing and breach of the peace. She had no idea where her son was, and didn’t have the means to call him, she didn’t have a mobile phone, since she stayed at home, she usually used the house phone for calling people.

Clutching her bag closely, she picked up the things she’d had the forethought to pack up, she didn’t dare glance at her neighbours. She felt so humiliated, Vernon must have something to do with that debt. It certainly had nothing to do with her, they were homeless, she had to get them somewhere to stay. The money they had was going to have to do them until this mess was settled. The thought of going to Marge’s left a bitter taste in her mouth. She absolutely hated the woman, just a couple of days in her company was too much, to make matters worse Vernon and Dudley adored her, Marge could get Dudley to do things even she couldn’t as his mother.

Wishing the ground would open up and swallow her whole, still in shock she begun to try and look for her son, not going too far in case he went home. If there were food to be eaten, then he would definitely go home, but dinner was an hour away usually, so she had time before he was due to go ‘home’ hopefully she’d find him before he got to Privet Drive. She did not want to go back there, not ever. If this was a mistake, she was going to demand a new home far away from Privet Drive as possible, along with a healthy amount of compensation for the emotional upheaval it had done to her.

She had no idea that...this was just the beginning.

----------0

“How are you feeling?” Corvus asked Harry upon returning, he’d seen Millicent out after she was positive he would be fine. To say the look on Harry’s face had been comical when his bones suddenly vanished from his hands would be putting it very lightly. He wasn’t sure how Muggles dealt with broken or shattered bones, and quite frankly he didn’t want to. He tried to see it from Harry’s point of view, he’d only learned about magic a few days ago. So it would all be so new to him. True to Millicent’s speculation, Harry barely felt anything, and it wasn’t a painless procedure, he should know it hurt making a bone mending potion never mind Skele-Gro.

Harry glanced up in surprise, shrugging his shoulders, what could he say? Then he watched Corvus sit down next to his bed, he hadn’t expected that.

“I would very much like a verbal answer, Mr. Potter,” Corvus said delicately, “Even if you wish to convey how sore you are, I will understand the complaints.”

“Why?” Harry asked utterly baffled.

“Do you ask because nobody has cared before or because you don’t understand why anyone would complain?” Corvus asked, a small smile on his weathered face.

“Uh, both…I guess,” Harry admitted his brow furrowed, feeling smothered in the bed, he wasn’t used to being quite so warm and snug.

“That is what people do, they like to complain,” Corvus answered, “And I do care, about your safety and wellbeing.”

“Because you want to see your son,” Harry said, a far away look on his face. Wondering what it was like to be loved that way, that you’d do absolutely anything for your son, even let a stranger into your home in order to get what you want.

“I am not going to lie to you and say it doesn’t have bearings on it,” Corvus revealed, “But I would have helped any wizard or witch that required aid especially getting away from Muggles. In our society, I believe that no wizard or witch should be left in the care of Muggles. Unfortunately, the Ministry doesn’t believe or see the danger Muggles pose to our society.”

Harry nodded, he actually believed him, he certainly seemed enraged over what happened to him. Plus, he’d already agreed to the stipulations anyway, so he had no need to help him to this extent. He could have just left him to flounder on his own, find his own way.

“Would you like to hear about the wizarding world? That’s if you wish to hear an old man ramble on?” Corvus asked, at least until he fell asleep, which he’d been assured would happen within the next hour. He was exhausted, his body needed to recuperate, and the best thing for him was sleep.

Harry’s eyes lit up, “Yes please!” quite eager to hear anything about the world he should already know about.

And so with nothing more than those eager green eyes as incentive, Corvus spoke of his own experiences at going to Hogwarts for the first time. A story he had told so many times to his own sons growing up, both of them so eager to know more while they waited until they were old enough to ride on that scarlet train to take their first trip to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

If Corvus wasn’t careful, he’d find himself utterly ensnared by the mesmeric and endearing young boy that Harry Potter was. He doubted Harry even realized just how endearing he looked. Perhaps it was his small stature, or just a natural charm they had of drawing you in. Just as he had been in the past by a similar young wizard, with eyes dark like his and his sons but by far more powerful. ‘Tom Riddle’ he thought, he would have been enraged by what had been done to the boy back in the day. He loathed the thought of children – like he himself had – suffering.

 

-----------0

There we go! Hopefully I haven't left anything out and it's realistic! So! Will the Triwizard tournament even happen? Will he be entered into the contest by a jealous student? Will Harry have to participate? Or will Harry only regale Rabastan tales of what's happening that year? will Rabastan and Rodolphus manage to get separate trials with Harry's help? Managing to get themselves out of Azkaban? Or will Rodolphus refuse to leave Bellatrix there and remain? Leaving only Rabastan free? Will Voldemort break them out or will he be more subtle in his attempts with Corvus and Harry at the helm to curtail his more…enthusiastic bloodthirsty tendencies or will his return to his younger years be exactly what they need (a bit like Embracing His True Self I suppose) or will he be the same as usual, but with Harry being neutral? What of Sirius? If Harry gets him a trial will he get the help he sorely needs with Narcissa (his favourite cousin) taking care of him? Will he try to constantly have Harry return to the light side or will he side firmly with his godson the only one who fought for him? What of Remus? Will Harry even take to him? OR will he hate the ground the werewolf stands on? After all he left him alone and refused to help him despite being close friends to his parents…and not ending up putting up with him for Sirius' sake (like he did in Pretty Boy) Read and Review please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 7

Corvus observed Harry over his cup of coffee, the eleven year old was content to stare at his fingers, flexing them, an awed look on his face. It had been there ever since he woke up this morning, which was only forty-five minutes but still, it was an odd length of time to be fascinated with ones own fingers. Just how much pain had Harry been in that he felt the need to flex his fingers and watch with rapid captivation? His food hadn’t been touched either, which was concerning him, he hadn’t put a lot on his plate either, and only what he was allowed to eat. It seemed a little selfish to him, not to allow Harry to eat something substantial, like a greasy breakfast, like all teens enjoyed. Fortunately for all concerned Millicent had warned him of ‘Refeeding syndrome’ and the consequences of such reactions.

It had overwhelmed Corvus just hearing about the consequences of allowing Harry to eat normal meals. Especially the deadly ones, coma, convulsions and cardiac failure. In other words, Harry could die because he was getting proper nutrition into his system, Millicent would be returning every day for a week to ensure that Harry wasn’t suffering from refeeding syndrome.

“Mr. Potter? Try and eat a little, you have a busy day ahead of you,” Corvus gentled his tone for the boy, he felt bad for bringing him out of his ‘fun’ but he needed to eat. He was going to keep a close eye on him, write everything down, from what he eats, to any reactions he had to the potions he consumed. That way, Millicent would get a complete rundown of everything, it was important after all. This way, nothing would be forgotten or overlooked. It seemed Millicent was also quite correct, Harry completely disregarded his own body’s needs. He could hear the grumbling of the boys stomach from here, but Harry seemed completely oblivious to it.

Harry looked up from his fingers, “Why do you call me Mr. Potter?” even the school used his name, or rather the teachers had used his name.

Corvus looked taken aback by the question, “It is improper in certain circles to use your first name without permission. It’s reserved for only friends, good acquaintances sometimes and family of course.” Corvus explained to the soon-to-be teenager. “Only those who I allow call me Corvus, but even at that, they sometimes use the title Lord Lestrange if the situation calls for it, mostly in official settings. Your school professors will always use that term, anything else is considered far too friendly, with the exception of your head of house.”

Harry frowned, brow wrinkled as he ate the food with a forced look on his face.

“You’ll find many of your classmates call you ‘Potter’ it’s not out of disrespect, but because of the way they’ve been raised.” Corvus continued. “Others have no proper training and will call you Harry, those are best avoided.” Unable to help his innate prejudice.

“Then I’m best avoided,” Harry pointed out, green eyes glimmering in a way Corvus couldn’t interpret. “I have no proper training,” is that what everyone was going to think of him? That he was unworthy because he didn’t know the ways of the wizarding world? It was disheartening to hear, but he didn’t need friends, didn’t need anyone…much, he just wanted to learn everything so nobody could hurt him again.

“By the time you leave for Hogwarts, Mr. Potter, you’ll be perfect,” Corvus promised, “Nobody will guess that you were not raised within the magical world at all.” He would ensure that, he was attached to the Lestrange name for the next four years, and with that became strict obligations and he’d see them through. “Eat what you can,” he reminded the boy yet again.

Harry sighed resignedly, “Why am I going to have a busy day?” scooping up more food and reluctantly eating. It wasn’t the fact he didn’t want to eat the food in front of him, not because of what it was, but rather he already felt uncomfortably full. Unfortunately, both Corvus and the healer had said he had to eat certain amounts and eight times a day. He wasn’t looking forward to it, he wasn’t used to people caring about whether he ate or not.

“Because we are having a few guests visiting today,” Corvus explained, “First you’ll be fitted with an appropriate pair of eyewear, these glasses you’re wearing are not only atrocious but causing more harm than good. The second will be a tailor to fit you with suitably fitted clothes. Thirdly, Millicent, the healer, will return to make sure you are recovering as expected. She’ll be returning every day for at least a week.” The eyewear seemed to please Harry the most, as his green eyes lit up in wonder, just how bad was his eyesight? How had he gotten around if he couldn’t see properly? No, it didn’t matter, he would have glasses soon enough and those disgusting things would be binned or banished within moments.

Thankfully he’d done everything he needed to last night after Harry had fallen asleep. He had written out the request forms for the Ministry of magic regarding weekly visits to Azkaban as per his sons betrothal agreement. Sent them in personally, to make sure they were signed immediately. Which they were of course, Fudge wouldn’t dare to deny him, especially with the law on his side. A kind donation had ensured smooth sailing though. Secondly he had Floo called – the first time he’d actually Floo called someone in six years actually and not them calling him – Severus Snape and made an order of all the potions he would need for Harry over the course of the next year. They money had been promptly deposited into his Gringotts account, as per usual. Severus had never let him down, and upon agreement, Corvus always put the payment through.

Just hearing the list of potions had made Severus – who rarely showed any emotion positive or otherwise – look green around the gills. As a Potions Master he knew everything there was to know about potions, and thus, knew what each of them did, getting them all together…didn’t leave much room for a wrongful interpretation. He knew Severus had been abused, he’d found out much too late unfortunately. Otherwise he would have done something to help the boy, just as he had aided Harry – although he got a much greater opportunity out of this one aiding his own sons – but it had been much too late, he’d already been legally an adult. Severus hadn’t asked questions other than about the potions strengths, knowing better, and Corvus hadn’t offered any additional information.

He had already delivered the first days, with the promise to have a fortnight’s worth by tomorrow. Then the scheduled fortnights worth each time they were needed as prescribed. Corvus wasn’t sure how to make sure Harry got them while at Hogwarts, he suspected he might actually need to impart Severus with the information. Not something he was one hundred percent sure off.

“I already have my school clothes,” Harry was clearly perturbed by the words.

“These will be for every day wear, you do not need to wear your school uniform at the weekends. If you wish to embrace the Potter mantle as Lord, one must make a good impression. Wearing these sort of attires, nobody will take you seriously.” Corvus explained patiently, “First impressions are very important after all.”

Harry nodded slowly, wondering at Corvus’ first impression of him.

“Now, I have the books you’ll need to read before Hogwarts starts, between the books you already have for your first year at Hogwarts. I do hope you like reading, you’ll be doing a lot of it this month. I have made a schedule for you, fear not, it won’t always be academic, I’ll ensure you have time to just be a child.” Corvus informed him, his heart breaking a little at the sight of surprise and uncertainty that momentarily crossed the boy’s face before the blank mask was up once again. He very much doubted Harry even know how to be a child, but he’d learn. With new freedom, Corvus suspected he’d pick it up quite quickly.

“Okay,” Harry agreed, shifting restlessly, the aches and pains making themselves known again, but considering how he’d felt before all this…it was a mild irritant. Pain had been a constant companion so long that Harry barely registered it, or at least it had been that way, with the potions though…the pain faded completely and it hurt when it returned more than normal. Maybe because his body was already getting used to the lack of pain? He couldn’t see how, he’d slept the majority of it, he’d been given it in the middle of the night once the Skele-Gro was out of his system.

“Take your potions,” Corvus’ hawk eyes caught the shifting, he had as always was paying very close attention to Harry. Each time Harry picked one up, Corvus explained what it was and what it would do. Getting him familiar with the potions he’d be taking for the next year. Well, not all of them, he’d be weaned off some of them as the year wore on, but yes, he best know which was which when he had to take care of taking them on his own. He would quiz him in the next week or so, to ensure that the knowledge was sinking in. “Well done,” he said proudly, the boy hadn’t even once grimaced or complained about their bad taste. It had been impossible for him to get his sons take potions when they were sick at that age.

Harry just blinked at Corvus unsure how to process that.

Corvus refrained from shaking his head, evidently compliments were something Harry had no idea on how to process. Of course they wouldn’t, why would they? The despicable Muggles were hardly going to give Harry any praise or self-esteem. He needed to build up self-confidence. Flicking his wand out from his wrist holder, he opened the window, it became apparent why a few moments later, as owls begun to swoop in.

“I’m sure you’re aware by now that wizards and witches use Owls to send and receive mail,” Corvus explained, “That includes any owl orders from shopping you do. Newspaper delivery, letters from Gringotts and anything from friends or acquaintances.” Severus would be delivering the potions by hand, at least this time, due to the time sensitive nature of the potions requirements but after that they would be delivered by mail with plenty of time to spare before they were needed.

“Hagrid bought me Hedwig, she was my first gift,” Harry said, smiling at the sight of all the owls, watching Corvus remove their burdens, and watched them take flight. They were majestic creatures, the way they moved, they were confident, powerful and regal. None of them held a candle to Hedwig though, she was definitely the most beautiful, and he didn’t care if he was being biased.

Corvus tucked that piece of information away, he suspected Harry had already formed an attachment to the Half-Giant. “Very elegant name,” he told the boy, and it was true, not many eleven year olds would call their owl with something so befitting an owl. “She is a beautiful owl, I’m sure she’ll get on well with my hawk, Loki,” he had more than one bird in the manor, seven owls and of course, his hawk which he used primarily for correspondence, the others were there just in cases. “Perhaps we can get her a cage worthy of her beauty?”

“I have one,” Harry pointed out.

“That, Mr. Potter, is a travel cage, merely used to transport your owl between destinations. It’s not meant for everyday use, and even that was merely given over with your owl free of charge and its extremely dirty and worn with age.” Corvus explained easily, it was at the height of stupidity to keep owls so closely confined in a small cage, especially when a simple spell would do the trick, allowing them the illusion of freedom and let them spread their wings. Seeing the unsure look on Harry’s face, he begun to wonder if it was because Harry didn’t want to go out in public yet? “We can look over bird cages and have one sent via Owl Order? That way you’ll get to see how it works and get something fitting for Hedwig.”

“Okay,” Harry agreed, wondering if the Owl Order was anything like the catalogues Petunia had strewn all over the house.

“Good,” Corvus gave Harry a rare smile, very pleased with how the situation was turning out. Not the fact Harry had been abused but how things were settling down. He’d never imagined a week ago that he’d be taking in Harry Potter and he’d actually be able to see his son every week. Yes, he owed the boy a great deal. He finished the remains of his coffee, and just as he placed it on the saucer one of his many House-elves appeared, removing all remnants of breakfast, including the cutlery, plates and bowls. Even the crumbs disappeared taking only a few seconds of cleaning.

That would have been his job…and it would have taken him at least an hour to get it done. “I love magic,” Harry said reverentially.

For the first time in his life, Corvus wished he could see what Harry had seen that was so mesmerizing. He had grown up with magic, it had long ago lost its wonder, if it had been a wonder at all. Magic had been part of his entire life, it was the normality for him. “You can practice all you like, while here within the grounds of Lestrange Manor.”

“But…I thought I wasn’t allowed,” Harry frowned, distinctively remembering that magic outside of school was a punishable offence. “The letter said I could be punished if I did magic during the summer holidays.” More accurately, magic was prohibited during the school holidays.

“The wards surrounding the manor prevent magic from being registered within the Ministry of Magic. What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” Corvus explained, no parent would allow their heirs be ill prepared for eleven years while they waited for Hogwarts to start up. “Now first lesson I want to impart on you, always carry your wand on your person.”

Easier said than done, Harry thought, he wasn’t sure how it would work, was there a space for it in the cloaks he’d bought for Hogwarts? He hadn’t thought to check, but he couldn’t exactly put it in his trouser pocket, they had holes in them, and quite frankly the wand was a piece of wood…it might end up breaking. He liked the wand he had thank you very much, even if Ollivander said it was the brother wand of Voldemorts.

“Follow me,” Corvus stood up, placing the used linen napkin on the table after wiping his mouth. Harry imitated him, much to Corvus’ pride, perhaps it wouldn’t take long to educate after all. He forewent his usual stride so that Harry could keep up with him, and in case he took a dizzy turn. Also keeping an eye out for any side affects the potions might produce.

Harry followed out of curiosity, realizing that they weren’t going up the stairs, he was grateful for that, the potions had made him majorly sleepy. Blinking slowly, rubbing his eyes, he yawned as he padded after Corvus, following him to his office. Somewhere Corvus had asked that he not enter without permission. Evidently he had his permission today, so Harry stepped in, looking around curiously, his office had a cupboard he noticed as Corvus opened it. He blinked, it certainly wasn’t like any cupboard he’d ever seen. Or the contents inside like anything he’d seen.

“Right, which colour do you prefer?” Corvus asked, spreading them out so he could see them properly. noticing that Harry’s countenance had slowed, as had his walking, there was a tired look on his face. Considering he’d just been asleep an hour ago, he deduced the potion had made him lethargic. The potion Severus had given him for Harry wasn’t as strong as the one he was meant to get. Something else he’d need to talk to Millicent about.

Harry watched him removing different coloured strips of something out of his cupboard, slightly bemused by what was going on. They were strange, the colours, one touch of them he figured out why, they were scales, he could feel the scales under his fingers. Sort of like a snake scale, but not as smooth, his eyesight wasn’t best, so he couldn’t distinguish the actual pattern. The colours though, he saw, purple, red, green, orange and one that was most certainly a mixture of those colours. “What kind of reptile are these from?” they felt too real to be manufactured.

“It’s Dragon-hide,” Corvus said, absently playing with one, “The animal is always dead before their parts are used, they’re never killed for their parts at least not by polite society. There are Dragon sanctuaries set up all over the world, in every country even.” Between clothing, accessories and potion ingredients the entirety of the Dragon was used, nothing wasted.

“I think I like this one,” Harry said, the copper colour gleamed red depending on which way the light hit it, and it was by far his favourite. He wasn’t sure what it was, perhaps it was just a stipe of material to see whether you like it or not. A swatch they called it.

“Interesting choice, this is from a Peruvian Vipertooth Dragon,” Corvus replied, wondering if the red and gold colour of choice hinted at Harry’s sorting. Quite honestly, he could end up in Gryffindor, like the rest of his family, but Corvus didn’t want that. Surrounded by the hairbrained idiots who would jump head first into dangerous situations, and called brave for it. “Left or right handed?”

“Um…right,” Harry ventured extremely perplexed, where was this going?

“Let me see your arm,” Corvus requested, plucking the Peruvian Vipertooth wand holster from the pile, and when Harry put out his arm, he turned it around and fastened the wand holster to his wrist. “This is a wand holster, it will enable you to keep your wand on you at all times.” He’d learn to rely on his magic and thus his wand, even if it was difficult to remember at first. “Go and retrieve your wand and keep it with you, always. Return here once you are done.”

Corvus gathered up his catalogues, placing the Eeylops Owl Emporium – presumably where Hagrid had bought Hedwig – on the top. You could buy absolutely anything from the shop, it wasn’t just owls themselves. Everything you need to care for them too, cages, travel cages, and whole variety of treats such as mice and the like. Below it was a clothing catalogue, something else he’d need, well, except the items the tailor would make for him.

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“Good morning, Lord Lestrange,” Tamara Travers said politely, as she stepped through the Floo network with only a small handbag with her. “What can I do for you?” she worked at her family ran business, Twilfitt and Tattings. She’d worked there since she graduated school, designing many of their more popular dresses and accessories.

“I require a full wardrobe, with all accessories, but first, you must sign this,” Corvus explained, an edge to his voice that spoke volumes. That he would not budge on the requirement, and if she wanted his business…then she would agree.

Tamara accepted the paperwork, a curious look on her face, one glance down at it her eyes widened in surprise. This was a secrecy contract, not something seen in her line of work, they must happened to be working with someone on the wrong side of the law. Just as a precautionary measure. She couldn’t help the bout of curiosity that overcame her. “May I borrow a quill?” she asked, gesturing towards the abundance of them on his desk.

“Go ahead,” Corvus said easily, watching her like a hawk, he wouldn’t bring Harry in until he had that signature signed and dried.

Tamara sighed her full name, watched it glow briefly before she placed the quill into the box. “Here,” she replied, handing it over, Corvus swiftly dried it and rolled it up, placing it in his pocket to keep it safe. It would join all his other documents in the safest place he had. “You may join us, Mr. Potter,” Corvus called out, loud enough that the young boy would be able to hear him.

Tamara gasped dramatically, eyes wide, Harry Potter? The Harry Potter? Blinking rapidly at the sight that greeted her, he was…definitely not what she expected. He did have a bit of the Potter gene in him, but he was so small…and he was definitely starting Hogwarts this year, he had to be eleven years old. Everyone was talking about it, Harry Potter starting at Hogwarts, where he would be placed – Gryffindor obviously like his brave parents – hell, there was even presumptions on who he would marry. It was insanity at its finest, he was an eleven-year-old boy, he wouldn’t be married for another seven years…if that, depending on whether the Potters’ had decided to betroth him to someone. Which was unlikely, the Potter family didn’t bother with such things, three generations of the Potters’ had married who they wished.

Harry stared blankly back at her, green eyes glittering warily, as if he expected her to have an over the top reaction. He absently played with the brand new platinum ‘promise’ ring Corvus had given him. Technically Rabastan should have done it, actually designed one, but that was impossible. So, Corvus had gifted him with one, with the protections to go along with the ring. It was a plain simple band, without the Lestrange crest or name, it hadn’t been used before, his father had it made for his mother, before changing his mind and designing something a little more extravagant. His mother hadn’t been one for gaudy and over the top jewellery so both pieces had been modest, along with her engagement and wedding rings. All of which he had, and kept close to him. It was one of the few things of his mother he had gotten when she passed, except for books and the like, but it wasn’t the same. He was expected to have one as he was Betrothed, and he wouldn’t be the only one wearing one either. Although, he might be the only male to have a promise ring though, according to Corvus.

“Everyday wear and special occasion robes?” Tamara questioned, snapping back into action, opening her bag, and her whole arm went into it while Harry watched in fascination. She removed trunk after trunk setting them down on the floor with precision.

“Yes, with breathing room, Mr. Potter will be gaining much needed weight in the next few months,” Corvus explained curtly, and there was no point to buying a whole new wardrobe if they wouldn’t fit him within a few weeks. Not that it truly mattered, he had more money than he’d ever need in several lifetimes. The Lestrange name would likely end with him and his sons, no further heir. He’d need to leave the Lestrange fortune to someone, otherwise it would be distributed between closest family, which happened to be the Black’s, Malfoy’s, Rosier and Beaufort families.

None of which appealed to him at all.

“My name is Tamara Travers, Mr. Potter, I’ll be fitting you for your clothes,” she said in way of introducing herself, “Come, stand here, and we shall get you fitted in proper attires.” Barely refraining from making a face at the clothes the boy was wearing, they were nothing more than rags, and ten times much too big for his thin frame. Perhaps that’s why he looked so young, but with the right clothes he’d look better. Harry would look worldly and elegant by the time she was through with him.

Harry moved into position, Corvus observed that Harry was remaining as far away from her without blatantly appearing so. Just outside of her reach, if she tried to go for him, he’d need to stop those Muggle instincts. If anyone would go for him, they would do so with a wand. He did not let her out of his line of sight though, which was good, albeit the only downside was he seemed to see everyone as a potential enemy. He hadn’t reacted like this when he was with the goblins or him, hell not even Rabastan. Had he felt safe with the goblins at his back? No, he didn’t believe that to be the case. Perhaps it was the newness that stopped Harry’s normal reactions? Or was the pain that bad that he couldn’t react how he often would? Given time he would figure it out, he just thanked his lucky stars that Harry did not treat him the same way. With caution and suspicion, that he was not, said he had gained Harry’s trust. How far that trust went…he did not know.

For the next hour Harry was measured for everything he’d possibly need, and a large list begun to be produced. Magazines thumbed through, outfits chosen, over a dozen cloaks, both winter and summer, dress shirts, trousers, underwear, socks, t-shirts, vests, jumpers, and three suits that had more than just a little room in them, since Corvus did not believe he’d use them until next summer. Accessories were also chosen, not that Harry wanted much in the way of accessories actually. Evidently he wasn’t going to be a big wearer of jewellery or other fashion wear. Perhaps it was the price? But he had urged Harry to chose something, but he’d declined, more than once. Harry had yet to deny him when he asked him to do something, so he obviously felt determined about it. He successfully managed to get Harry to chose a few pairs of cufflinks, which were a given, he needed them to complete his attire.

“How long will it take to complete?” Corvus questioned, “I want it as soon as possible, price is as always, irrelevant.”

“Rush order? I can have everything completed in two days,” Tamara explained, as she began to shift through her chests. “I have a few items already created if you’re interested?” lower down, she noticed the ring on Harry’s finger, and froze for a second. Putting the pieces together, Harry Potter was engaged into the Lestrange family? Well, Corvus was in need of an heir, his sons would never be free. He was too old for the boy though, but it wouldn’t be the first time an older man had married someone young.

“Let’s see,” Corvus gestured, not agreeing to anything until he saw the clothes for himself.

Tamara begun to bring out folded up clothes, passing them to Corvus after checking the tag to ensure it was correctly sized for Mr. Potter. Ensuring the colours were the right ones that had been asked for, if Harry Potter was betrothed to Lord Lestrange…then their combined fortunes would be considerable. He didn’t seem distressed, and a contract had to have been made up before this otherwise it wouldn’t be happening. A child cannot be coerced into a Betrothal, just how bad had Harry’s life been that he’d choose this life to get away from it? Or was he ignorant to the Lestrange name? She doubted it though, plus, if Corvus kept it from him he’d learn very quickly in school and it would defeat the purpose of trying to keep it secret.

“These will do,” Corvus gave his approval, completely unaware of Tamara Travers’ thoughts regarding himself. If he had known, he would have taken extreme offence and took his business elsewhere. He could have gotten married again after his wife died, but he had not. He had loved her wholly and completely, and did not wish to have her replaced, not even with the thought of saving his line and having another heir. It wouldn’t only be betraying his wife but his sons as well, and Corvus found the idea distasteful.

Harry would be putting them on, and he would be burning the entire wardrobe the boy had brought with him. Perhaps he could begin teaching Harry new spells while he was at it. So that he wasn’t at a disadvantage at Hogwarts with the others. He wasn’t sure how the other Pureblood’s would react to him, either hate him or want to cosy up to him due to his name and the power he’d have one day. Perhaps he should give some advice to other pureblood’s give them warning, subtle of course, that if they tried anything they would be messing with him and the Lestrange name.

“These are the underwear and socks, three different sets,” Millicent informed him, as she also handed them over. The underwear was different kinds, not just silk, cotton and etc…but boxer briefs, boxer shorts, and of course briefs to that he had a selection to pick from to see which he preferred.

Corvus’ lips twitched when the young boy blushed fiercely, as if nobody else in the world wore underwear. Children could be funny things at times. He handed them over giving him a pointed look, wondering if he would understand.

Harry nodded, time to go and get changed then, with that Harry backed away, keeping Tamara in his line of sight until he disappeared from the room.

“Hand delivery or Owl delivery?” Tamara questioned, hand delivery would guarantee it quicker, sometimes owls could take nearly a day or over a day to reach their destination no matter how speedily it flew.

“Hand delivery, one o’clock,” Corvus stated, not waiting for a reply before he scribbled the time and ‘Travers’ upon his day to day diary. She would make sure the clothes were delivered on time, considering what he was paying, she better damn well. He never kept his Floo open, so if she did not turn up at one then he’d go for them and refuse all access to his home. Then find somewhere else to take his business, he didn’t tolerate tardiness.

“Consider it done,” Tamara agreed, writing in her own planner, she didn’t just cater to the Lestranges but other pureblood’s as well. Thankfully though, most of them elect to go to the store to be served, instead of home calls, but they did happen now and again. This time of the year was the busiest, with all the students going back to or to Hogwarts for their first year. She’d just completed Narcissa’s order of Draco Malfoy’s school things. Most of which were already created, she knew it was coming and often made sure most orders were complete in time for the rush. Sure, she had to make the Crabbe and Goyle uniforms from scratch, due to bulk and tallness respectively, but most fitted perfectly. Which eased considerable strain in the long run.

“Good,” Corvus stated firmly, “You already know my details, including vault number,”

“Just a moment,” Tamara said, plucking out the invoice and quickly drafting up the total.

At the same time Harry made a reappearance, dressed in the clothes he’d just received.

“Now you look the part,” Corvus said, pride gleaming in his eyes, he looked older, more sophisticated, he was perfect, except the lack of weight and the bruising he knew was under those clothes. He tried not to think about it, because it made him absolutely furious. The Dursley’s weren’t suffering anywhere near enough, he had eyes on them at all times, they were living with Marge Dursley for the moment, Vernon had been released but his day was only going to get worse when he found himself out of a job. A few whispers in the right ears and evidence of Vernon’s greed he would find himself in deep trouble. Legal trouble, evidence was easily created to make it look like he was stealing from the company after all. Which would ensure that any remaining money they got from the sale of the property would go right back to paying a lawyer instead of them settling down somewhere. They would suffer for years before he took pity on them and killed the pathetic creatures…maybe. Depending on what else he learned from Harry about them…he had a feeling he’d keep their misery going for decades.

“You do look handsome,” Tamara said, “The blue looks absolutely striking on you,” she was overstepping she knew, but Corvus didn’t seem to mind her observation at all. If one didn’t observe Harry’s feet that is, he still had on those disgusting beat up Muggle trainers of his.

Harry only nodded, still tense and alert, he had heard Corvus say he was buying everything. He wasn’t sure why, he didn’t need to buy him anything he could afford it himself. Was it just the way that the family provide for the ‘betrothed’ while under their roof or just something Corvus felt the need to do? Either way, he felt warmth infusing in his cold soul, nobody had looked out for him his entire life. Corvus didn’t need to buy him anything like clothes or give him rings or wand holsters, an owl cage and a large helping of treats or any of that. Yet he did. It made him feel wanted, and it was the greatest feeling in the world.

“It’s done, all it requires is your signature and stamp,” Tamara explained, handing over the paperwork attached to a clipboard.

Harry padded forward a bit, to see what they were doing, noticing Corvus signing a slip of paper then pressing his ring into the ink pad on his desk before pressing it against the paper. “This is my Lordship ring, it cannot be duplicated or stolen, and all checks require signatures and your Lordship ring to prevent any theft.” He explained for the boy, who was as always curious about everything around him. He noticed that he was always had to come closer than he’d clearly like, eyes squinting in order to see what was going on. That would soon stop, he’d have suitable eyewear within an hour or so. He did manage to see the price and gasped at the outrageous amount for clothes! Well, there were some cufflinks added but still…it was ridiculous.

The cufflinks were actually platinum with encrusted diamonds and another pair with emeralds, so in reality the total price was a good representation of their value. The shop didn’t sell mediocre jewellery, that was for Madam Malkins to do.

“As always, it’s a pleasure to do business with you,” Tamara informed Corvus, dipping her head in respect and thanks, already beginning to pack everything back up. If she had been a gossip she would have been cursing her luck, this was after all quite the juicy piece of news they’d had in over a decade. Harry Potter engaged to Corvus Lestrange. Fortunately, Tamara wasn’t one for gossip, peoples’ lives were their own.

“Have a good day,” Corvus replied, watching as she finished packing and immediately used the Floo Network to get back to her shop. Turning back to the teenager who had relaxed considerably after she left, barely refraining from smiling. Tomorrow morning the birds cage, treats and Harry’s footwear should come. They’d done not bad in twenty-four hours that’s for certain. It felt a lot longer than that, for definite. “We have thirty minutes before the optometrists comes, why don’t we do something with those…unsuitable clothes of yours?” wishing to say something else entirely, but he didn’t want to make Harry feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. It wasn’t his fault, nor was the abuse, didn’t stop him feeling embarrassed or ashamed and he definitely was.

“The optomtro-what?” Harry barely murmured the words, talking to himself not Corvus.

“Optician, to see about new glasses,” Corvus explained, “And while we deal with your old clothes, I’ll teach you a few spells, how does that sound?” it had been a long time since he taught anyone spells, his sons used to beg him to teach them everything he knew.

“Really?” Harry perked up further, excitement written across his face.

“In time you’ll see I do not say anything I do not mean,” Corvus promised him, “Shall we?”

Harry nodded eagerly, almost tripping over his own feet to get moving, Corvus quickly pressed his hand to Harry’s shoulder to steady him. concern momentarily crossing his face, and Harry, who had flinched caught sight of that concern. He knew that emotion, he knew what it looked like. He’d seen it in Petunia and Vernon’s faces when Dudley got sick, never once in his entire life had it been directed towards him. He tried to remind himself that this wasn’t permanent, that Corvus was only helping him because of Rabastan. His son. Yet deep down, he wondered why he’d fake any of it, it wasn’t necessary or needed.

“My apologies,” Corvus murmured quietly, yet confidently, as he withdrew from the boy, once he was sure he wasn’t going to fall or take another dizzy turn.

“Its…it’s okay,” Harry said, swallowing thickly, he hated the way he reacted to hands coming anywhere near him. It was a weakness, he wished he could hide it.

Saying nothing, Corvus guided Harry towards his bedroom, speaking as he did so, “I’ve scheduled the visits to the prison on a Saturday so that you won’t miss any classes at Hogwarts. With you being so new to the magical world, you’ll need quite an advantage to catch up. The information has already been signed giving you permission to go. The teachers will be informed you are spending time with your Betrothed but not where or who.” Which was a good thing, Dumbledore would do everything in his power to prevent it, but his power had been considerably limited these days. Harry had wrenched a great deal of power from the old man. He just wished he’d been there to see it, it would have been glorious really.

Within fifteen minutes Harry’s clothes were bundled up and placed upon one of the many 40” large iron cast fire pits in the back of the grounds in Lestrange Manor. True to Corvus’ word, he taught Harry how to light a fire and how to douse it. Talking a little more about magic, and how with his wand holster his wand couldn’t be summoned from him when it was in there. Everything he could think of, things that wouldn’t overwhelm Harry, but centred around beginners magic, perhaps next summer they could get into more details but for now best not to engulf Harry with information he wouldn’t understand.
Of course, Corvus underestimated Harry, and would soon see that before the month was up.

There was no other reason for burning the clothes other than Corvus believed it would do Harry good to completely distance himself from his past. It would be therapeutic to say the least. To shred the skin he’d been in as an abused boy to witness him become the young man he was destined to be. Had always been destined to be.

Two hours later…Harry for the first time in his life could see properly with a pair of well chosen glasses that added to his charm and appeal. Corvus once again commiserated over the fact that Harry truly wasn’t marrying into the family. For he would make a beautiful husband…he just knew it. Harry would certainly be oblivious to his appeal. His green eyes no longer squinted giving him a much more determined look.

He was going to be glorious. He thanked his younger self for having the forethought to have such a contract written up. He was going to be the one guiding Harry into adulthood, and he was going to enjoy every second of it. although, he was hopeful given time that Harry would become more…vocal. He was much too quiet.

 

----------0

So will we see Dumbledore's reactions in the next chapter? Or will we leave that until Harry's actually at Hogwarts? Will Severus put two and two together and realise who has Harry? Or will it remain a mystery until after his first class with the boy when Corvus goes to visit him with every intention of bringing him down for how he was treating Harry? Will Severus confide in Corvus and Harry about the vow? Giving Severus a new lease of life or will we see Severus taking a backseat in this story? I've never done that before so it would be something new! Will this be Mpreg? Unusual or something that males can achieve thorugh spells and potions? Making Harry unique amongst the population? I don't want to make it too much like Devotion of the Black heir after all don't get me wrong I love that story BUT I definitely don't want to copy it! 😊 Would you like to see a more political side to it? How much of the power would you say Dumbledore loses? (Head of Wizengamot, wizengamot seats, Council of magic, and ICW) or just lose (Head of the wizengamot, and council of magic, with a place still within the Wizengamot) or (Head of Wizengamot and no seat within the Wizengamot at all) with basically absolutely no power within the Ministry? Hmm wonder if there's something I'm missing! Nope can't think of anything right now oh yes, the dementors will they continue to affect Harry until he learns occlumency? Read and Review please!

OH yes! There was a picture made for The Contract it's available for viewing on my Facebook page and A03 you must see it! It's simply amazing work!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 8

Albus Dumbledore leaned back in his chair a small smile playing across his face. Hagrid had gladly regaled him of his time with the young Potter boy. Including making sure to add that his parents had been heroes and that they’d both been in Gryffindor along with him, the great Albus Dumbledore. He had no doubt the boy would be a Gryffindor, all Potters had. Of course, he refused to dwell on the fact the boys paternal grandmother was a Black and had been in Slytherin. What the boy didn’t would wouldn’t hurt him. It didn’t hurt to add a few preventative measures into the mix to ensure he went were he belonged. It had been a long ten years waiting for his plans to come to fruition, they were far from complete but by the time he was done they definitely would be. This wasn’t his longest game plan by far, but it would be the most rewarding.

Sipping a cup of coffee, he couldn’t help but think this was the perfect Saturday. Even as he thought this, he continued to mull over his plans.

It was also his most important game plan as well, the outcome would see to it that the magical world lived in a time of peace and prosperity. It was a shame the young boy would have to die to see it through. The needs of the many surely outweighed the needs of the many, or the one. He held no guilt over his plans of actions, the magical world was more important. Staring at the packaged stone on his desk, he sighed softly, it was time to begin drawing out Tom from whatever hole he was hiding. It was time to begin his plans and ensure they both would try to kill each other, cementing their roles in all this for years to come.

Of course, Albus didn’t realize that Hagrid had left a glaring hole in his tale. The fact he had gone with the goblins in Gringotts to get his inheritance settled.

Not that he would remain oblivious long.

His brow wrinkled as he took sight of his correspondence pile, a resigned sigh coming from between his lips. He didn’t want any distractions the first few weeks of Harry’s schooling. He had to focus on him, to make sure the boy took to him, and begun to look up to him so that when the time came he would do whatever it is that he asked of him. It was vital to build upon a foundation of trust, given the boys childhood it would be easily achieved, no doubt he was desperate for attention and affection. He might as well get started now, it may well take the rest of the summer to get through the pile.

Plucking out the first of the many documents lying on his desk, the first five were work related, approving set Hogsmeade dates and schedules. Albus noticed that more Slytherin and Gryffindor classes were together, nodding his silent approval. Signing the agreements for the scholarships for this year, giving students a chance they wouldn’t otherwise. This included one for Ronald Weasley, the sixth Weasley to grace the halls of Hogwarts this generation and there were more still to go. Then there were Fred and George Weasley, three were ever awarded each year. He was supposed to be impartial, but that wasn’t the case. Since he had added a forth to ensure Percy Weasley could continue at Hogwarts without Molly and Arthur paying for their son to continue his education. That was favouritism at it’s finest, but the Weasley’s were his greatest supporters, so of course he’d put them first. Thankfully, nobody was interested in this bar him, not even the board of Governors. Thankfully Bill had graduated so he didn’t need to come up with yet another scholarship, which would have been difficult for even him.

Albus continued his work, as the chatter surrounding him from the portraits faded into the background as he hummed under his breath. Occasionally plucking a Sherbet Lemon from his little bowl and indulging a little as he worked. He set aside a few letters to respond to at a later date, best to let them stew a little. That included a letter from Cornelius Fudge the current Minister for Magic, a weasel of man but controllable to an extent. Plus, he wouldn’t allow Fudge to see Harry Potter, which clearly was what the wizard wanted.

Glancing at the date, he noticed he’d gotten through two days correspondence, no three days, the letter from Gringotts was into it’s third day. He had an entire fortnight to get through, having been too busy with the ICW, the wizengamot, the council of magic and everything else in-between. Don’t get him wrong, it was busy, but he would want it no other way. He was the most important person in the magical world, had all the power, and everyone wanted to be him or learn from him or sought guidance from him. Being Minister would have severely limited his influence, being Headmaster offered him everything he could have possible wanted.

Pursing his lips, Albus sighed resignedly, he definitely didn’t like this part of being Harry Potter’s magical guardian. The goblins were always on his case when it came to the Potter fortune, which had remained stagnant for the past decade. He quite honestly didn’t care about making the estate more money. If he had any say, he’d be able to successfully plan for an heir to the Potter fortune before the boy died. If not, it would be a shame, after all the Potter name was revered and quite well known, to see it disappearing into the abyss because the magical world required sacrifice would be a shame. His thought revolved around Ginny Weasley or Lily Moon, both of whom would be easily manipulated and led down the correct path and were in similar ages to Harry. It’s just a shame as the boy’s magical guardian he couldn’t create a Betrothal contract for him. Such things were blacklisted by the estates when instances in the past led to considerable loss of fortune with magical guardians taking advantage of their charges to marry the said child into the family. In essence becoming the head of the family that he was supposed to oversee. Only close family, blood, could create contracts for their offspring.

Just as he was about to open the Gringotts letter, owls flew through the open window, swooping over dropping their parcels and letters before leaving. Albus could have groaned, perfect, more mail for him to get through. He was half tempted to get Minerva to deal with half of it, and would have done if he trusted anyone but himself. He’d never risk Arabella’s letters or any of his contacts missives ending up in someone else’s hands.

Opening the package, he smiled to himself, his monthly supply of Lemon Drops, perhaps he’d make that the new password to his office this year. Ripping open one packet, he plucked one from inside and sucked on it as he got back to work. That was until he digested what he was seeing, and then promptly swallowed the lemon drop whole and began to cough and splutter as he tried to dislodge the invader currently blocking his throat.

Fanatically swallowing, he finally, finally swallowed the obstruction, wheezing out breaths of air, blinking rapidly to clear his eyes. Which were watering due to his previous inability to get air into his lungs. Breathing steadily through his nose, he allowed himself to calm down before he attempted to pick up the letter he’d received from Gringotts…surely he had hallucinated the entire thing. That was it, just so tired that he’d dreamt the entire thing. If only he could bring himself to believe that.

…no longer needed in connection to the Potter Estate…

…A severance pay has been added to your vault…

…thank you for your services...

No, this was impossible, he was Harry Potter’s magical guardian, short of him gaining another there was nothing anyone could do to prevent him keeping control of the Potter Estate. Panicking now, he shifted through all letters pertaining to Gringotts, and begun to open them, without even bothering with the letter opener. Just yanking the seal and opening the letters to see what was inside of them, the first was the two week old statement for the Potter vaults, which were as expected, money going to Arabella and the Dursley’s and the usual investments that had been going since before he became the boys magical guardian.

Ripping open the second missive, his eyes were drawn to a particular sentence.

…the use of the seats of use the Potter Estate within the Wizengamot are now forbidden and withdrawn…

…The Ministry has thusly been notified that the seats will be kept in stasis for the time being…

Albus paled, not only was he no longer Harry Potter’s magical guardian but he had lost all legal rights to use his seats within the Ministry of magic. His hand slumped as he stared unseeingly at the letter, shocked beyond all belief. This was…impossible, utterly impossible. The only way Harry Potter’s guardian could have changed would be by the Ministry, and that wouldn’t have happened without his input.

Shaky and feeling rather sick, unable to believe this had happened to him. Without those seats his influence in the Ministry of magic was over except his subtle manipulations of the Minister of magic. Not only had he lost the Potter seats, but he couldn’t be Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot without those seats. He didn’t have one of his own, it was the use of the boys seats that ensured his power was complete. Without any seats on the Wizengamot he wasn’t legally allowed to be Supreme Mugwamp of the International Confederation of Wizards. “This can’t be,” in one fell swoop he had lost everything and he had no idea how it happened.

What had Harry Potter done?

Swallowing thickly, he numbly picked up the letter that had just arrived from the Ministry of magic. The scribe office, and he closed his eyes and forced himself to open the letter. One glance confirmed his greatest fears, the Ministry knew of his loss of seats and were informing him as if he hadn’t just received one from Gringotts. Merlin, help him, how did the boy know any of this information? He’d been placed with Muggles for Merlin’s sake…for that very reason, to keep him oblivious to all moves he made.

“Albus? Is everything alright?” the concern from the portraits beginning to get through to his numb mind.

“Fine. Everything is fine.” Dumbledore stated standing up abruptly, heart pounding, he had to get answers immediately. There was still time to reverse this, he hoped. He refused to take this lying down, whoever was trying to mess with him, they’d picked the wrong person to do so. Harry Potter must have been manipulated into this, whatever ‘this’ was, he needed to find out with haste.

The goblins would reveal absolutely nothing, so his best bet for answers was through the Ministry of magic. scrambling up all information on Gringotts and his loss of power, he stashed them in his drawer that he kept locked both manually and with spells. He redid the spells and quickly made his way to his fireplace. Grasping a handful of Floo, ignoring breakfast that the House-elves literally just brought to him, he called out clearly, “Ministry of Magic, Main Atrium,” he had to speak to Cornelius immediately.

Despite not eating anything, the journey – which usually wouldn’t be a problem – made him feel nauseous. It didn’t help that he was already feeling a stone lodged in his stomach at this predicament. Removing the soot from himself, he began to stalk down the corridor, finding it difficult to keep up a genial mask as he smiled and replied ‘good morning’ whenever he was spoken too. Which seemed to be absolutely everyone and their wives this morning.

“Morning, Sir!” the wand check wizard chirped, as he registered his wand, “How are you today?”

“I am well, thank you,” Albus said, tense smile on his face, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have meetings to attend, I’m sure you know how it is!” he managed to keep a note of cheer in his voice.

“Of course, Sir, have a good day!” slightly surprised at the way the Headmaster snatched his wand back and made a beeline for the closest lift. Someone must be in a hurry today, normally he took the time to speak to him a little longer than that.

Albus could have groaned when he noticed that it was Delores Umbridge that was sat at the desk outside Fudge’s office as the lift opened. The woman was completely intolerable and didn’t easily cave to his demands like the other secretary’s did. Even the Ministers undersecretary would have been preferable over her.

“Can I help you?” Umbridge asked, with feigned politeness, her voice could have grated on a saints nerves.

“I’m here to see the Minister of Magic,” Albus informed her.

“I don’t see you down for an appointment, would you like me to make one for you, Sir?” Umbridge questioned, with feigned surprise.

“I need to see the Minister,” Albus stated firmly, becoming extremely irate.

“I’m afraid the Minister is unavailable at this time,” Umbridge replied immediately, not at all impressed by Dumbledore or his accolades.

Albus imagined himself wrapping his fingers around her neck and squeezing the life out of her. His fingers twitched when the desire to do just that almost overwhelmed him. He was losing his composure, realizing this, he side stepped her pathetic little table and made a beeline for the Minister’s office. He didn’t care if he was intruding on a meeting, he had to have his answers. Now. He opened the door and stepped in, completely ignoring the screeching harpy behind him.

Inside Cornelius Fudge sat, surprised to see him, sitting across from him was Lucius Malfoy.

“Well, well,” Lucius said, his lips curling at the sight of Dumbledore, “It seems spending so much time with the youth of today has made you uncommonly rude, just as they can be. I believe our conversation is over for today, Cornelius, I shall return when you keep better company.” As always able to tear people down with a few choice words.

Cornelius opened his mouth to protest, but thought better of it, neither wizard was fond of the other. He did however, want the donation Lucius was promising but unfortunately, it wouldn’t happen today. Lucius wouldn’t do business with Dumbledore around, and honestly, Cornelius couldn’t blame him. “We can reconvene tomorrow morning?” the Minister suggested, not letting this one go.

“Perhaps,” Lucius said smoothly, as he stood, moving around Dumbledore as if he was a disease that he was terrified of catching.

“I shall see you soon,” Cornelius added before Lucius departed, a frown marring his features, “What is wrong, Albus?” he’d never barged into his office before. In fact, he usually had a difficult time getting a hold of Albus when he actually wanted him. So, to see him he was a surprise.

“Has anything passed your desk regarding Harry Potter?” Albus asked, not even bothering with subtly, he didn’t have the time for the subterfuge.

“Ah,” Cornelius murmured, he should have guessed it would be about the boy. “There has indeed,” and he couldn’t reveal anything, even if he knew, which he did not, at least not the full story.

“I have been Harry’s only magical contact within our community since he was a child, I have been unexplainably removed as his magical guardian, what happened?” Dumbledore commanded, his voice sounding deeper than normal. “The child will be so confused by the changeover, what have you done?” suspecting the Minister of plotting against him and the boy, in order to gain more power for himself.

“I have done nothing,” Cornelius said, wary to the extreme, Dumbledore looked unhinged right now. “The boy has entered a Betrothal contract, his contracted Betrothal, I presume has become his magical guardian.”

Dumbledore gaped at Cornelius in disbelief, unable to believe what he’d just heard, “Betrothed?” slumping into the seat that Lucius Malfoy had vacated earlier. That hadn’t been something he had seen coming, but James and Lily Potter wouldn’t have betrothed their son, surely. The Potter’s didn’t believe in furthering their status, they had no need for Betrothals. He felt betrayed by them for their actions, how could they do such a thing? Had Sirius Black convinced them to take action? Who had gotten to them?

“Yes, Mr. Potter will be leaving Hogwarts every Saturday to spend time with his Betrothed who I presume to be older than him, by at least seven years judging by the fact he’d be leaving Hogwarts. It has already been signed off on, legally there is nothing that could be done to stop it.” Cornelius explained, even if he had been tempted, which he wasn’t. If he had put more thought behind his work, he would have realized that Saturday was the day Corvus Lestrange had set up for his son to be seen by his own betrothed.

“Who?” Dumbledore asked, pale and shaken, unable to believe it. Who? How? When? Why? Merlin, help him, there was nothing he could do short of finding out who was behind this. Try to pressure them, prevent Harry from accepting the engagement that would naturally occur in around six years’ time. This wasn’t meant to happen, why had Lily let James do such a thing? It strained credulity, given he knew James and Lily well…or he thought he had.

Cornelius gave him a look that spoke volumes, usually it occurred the other way around, “You know Betrothals are private, we won’t know until it’s publicly declared.” Whether the Betrothal was openly declared or the engagement that followed. Many elected to keep it quiet, others proudly declared their offspring’s betrothal. It just depended on the family and their preferences. The contracts were written out, yes, but the participants weren’t visible for anyone to see. It’s the way magic and the contracts worked. It kept the betrothals safe especially if they were Betrothed to a well known family.

Dumbledore’s brow furrowed, wishing he’d paid more attention to the Potter Estate. Found the damn contract and destroyed it before it could be used to manipulate Harry Potter. One whole month, at least thirty days before the boy would be in his sight, that’s if he was allowed to attend Hogwarts and the Betrothed didn’t force him to attend a different school on another continent. A lot of manipulation could be managed in that short amount of time, depending on who it was…the boy could come to Hogwarts absolutely loathing the ground he walked on. This…was a very precautious situation that he was in right now. He couldn’t go without knowing, he had to find out who it was.

Who would James and Lily trust with their son? He still couldn’t fathom why they’d do this, but there was only a few families he believed the Potter’s trusted. The Longbottoms, the Weasley’s, the Bones’ all of whom had a child Harry Potter’s age. Yet, from what he’d been told, the speculation was that he wasn’t Harry’s age, older, at least by Seven years. Could they have used Bill Weasley? He was exactly the right age, and was perfectly trusted by the Potters. He wanted to laugh in sweet relief, it made sense, and despite not wishing to connect dots that might not even be there, he couldn’t help himself. It would most certainly be the most favourable outcome.

The feeling in his gut refused to budge, he just knew it wasn’t Bill Weasley, but who else could it be?

----------0

Corvus leapt at Harry, successfully managing to stop him from smashing on the floor. His eyes had immediately rolled into his head upon using the Portkey. He’d never seen anyone react that way before, was this normal for those Muggle raised? Shivering himself, loathing the affect that Azkaban had on him and knowing it was doing worse to his sons.

“He passed out last time too,” one of the guards commented, a glimmer of pity hidden in the depths of his eyes. Apparently the dementors hadn’t managed to get rid of all feelings the guards had then. “I think he has a bigger reaction to the presence of the Dementors than most.” And that was without them in the general vicinity.

“Did he realize this was why he passed out last time?” Corvus questioned, utterly perplexed, if this was the case why on earth would the boy agree to this? Especially every week? Was this going to happen every time? The Dementors usually were attracted to good memories…and he couldn’t imagine Harry had many of those.

“The goblins explained it to him, so I believe so,” the guard said, his tone still unusually gentle, despite the fact he didn’t care much for Corvus Lestrange. He could however, see how the boy passing out had affected the wizard. Normally he didn’t see any emotion on his face, and it was a stark reminder that he was in fact human.

Harry came around with a groan, groping into his pocket, withdrawing the piece of chocolate he’d saved for this very occasion. He immediately chomped on it, as he sat up, his mind muddled from the potions he was taking. According to Millicent the affects were only happening because his body was too new to potions. They would stop being quite so strong within a week or so as his body adjusted to them.

Corvus bit his tongue, Harry really wasn’t supposed to have anything sugary, and chocolate most certainly counted. The fact he had this on hand, revealed Harry knew this may happen. What if it continued? What if it was detrimental to Harry’s health? Should he continue on with this? He felt rather torn, between his son and Harry, he rather hoped he wouldn’t have to pick between them. right now though his son would most definitely win out and he wasn’t sure he liked himself thinking it. Harry was a vulnerable eleven-year-old boy, and he had been charged – even if it was self-appointed – to make sure Harry recovered and became the young man he should have always been.

“Are you sure you should be standing?” Corvus questioned as Harry groggily got to his feet, only Corvus’ hands made sure the boy was stead.

“I’m fine,” Harry murmured, withdrawing boxes from his cloak pocket, and handing them over to the guard with a sheepish smile.

The guard merely smiled in reply unable to help it really the boy was charming, and begun the usual slew of spells to check and make sure there was nothing dangerous in the box. Both in that they could be used against them or the dementors or against a inmate. This time though, Harry was listening intently, ear cocked as he watched, making a mental note of the spells to find out what exactly they did. Not that he was actually planning on getting around them, they were just handy to know.

Not long afterwards they were granted admission into the room, where Rabastan was currently sitting, with a hot chocolate recovering from the affects of the dementors. This time, despite only ten minutes passing, he was much more alert than he had been last week.

“Hi Basty,” Harry grinned at the wizard, as he sat down, arms on the table chin set comfortably on his arms.

Rabastan blinked at the eleven-year-old, giving him an odd look, “What’s wrong with him?” he asked his father, what had his father been up to? He looked drugged out of his gourd his glazed eyes gave him away. His father had moved quickly, he was dressed impeccably in a proper wizard attire and tidy. The Merlin awful glasses he’d had on were gone, replaced with a pair that suited his features, highlighting his eyes and face particularly his cheekbones. He looked every inch a pureblood wizard.

Corvus coughed to hide how amused he was both at the name and the look on his sons face. “Don’t get too used to it, Mr. Potter is merely getting used to the potion regimen he’s on.” it was making Harry act younger than he actually was, causing him to sleep a lot, which wasn’t making it easy to teach him everything he needed to know. However, due to Millicent’s reassurances he felt confident it would only last up to a week. He’d never admit it but it was extremely endearing, and Harry admitted things he wouldn’t while under its effects.

Rabastan’s eyes narrowed at the word ‘regimen’ there weren’t many potions that could cause that sort of affect. “What happened?” he had been surprised to be taken out of his cell this morning. He hadn’t expected his father to move so quickly, but he should have done. He was allowed to have a visitor every week, and apparently today was going to be the day for that. He needed to find a way to calculate the days, so he knew when he was coming. Arching a brow at the dark look that adorned his father’s face. He was attached, he realized, his father cared about Harry Potter, and it wasn’t in a neutral capacity where they used each other to get what they wanted like when the agreement was created.

“They’re paying the price,” Harry said, trying for a wicked grin but it came off as dopy as hell. Adding in sing song voice, “I bought the house, I just might set it on fire.” It had been therapeutic watching the clothes burn, so how much better would it be if he burnt down number four Privet Drive. He’d got the property for way under it’s worth, the goblins were good at what they did.

“Quite the vindictive creature isn’t he?” Rabastan murmured, quite impressed, he wasn’t what you’d call a law abiding citizen after all.

“I’m tempted to let him, if he wishes,” Corvus retorted, still learning new information every day, as if the damn diagnosis wasn’t enough. Hearing about how the injuries came about was somehow worse, although, he’d kept his questions to a minimum. The look of anger and shame that adorned Harry’s face when he realized what he said stuck with him. Hours later mind, once the pain relief draught had worn off some and he realized what he said.

“What’s been going on?” Rabastan asked yet again, glancing at Harry only to find the boy sleeping. How on earth could he sleep right now?

“This will explain better than I can,” Corvus withdrew the diagnosis sheet he had brought with him for this occasion. As it wasn’t dangerous it hadn’t registered on the guards search of him. He was very pleased to see his son more coherent this time. The fact he was getting good food, an abundance of chocolate and reading materials to keep his mind occupied had worked wonders. To think it was only a few days…this was going to be good for him. He just wished he could accomplish the same for his eldest son Rodolphus, unfortunately, it would take a miracle really. He couldn’t get someone to become Rodolphus’ betrothed, he was already married, there was nothing he could do for him. Gratitude overwhelmed him, grateful he hadn’t created a Betrothal match for Rabastan too.

Rabastan accepted the paperwork, resolutely gritting his teeth at his shaking hands, which by the way were dirty, so dirty they appeared black. What he wouldn’t give to have a bath, both his arms and legs probably. Unfortunately, dirtiness had been the first thing he’d resigned himself to, then life imprisonment, and the possibility of losing his mind which had been the toughest thing to come to terms with.

Placing it on the table, he clutched his hands together under the table, before looking over the extremely extensive list of injuries. His eyes got steadily larger and colder the further he read. “And people wonder why we hate Muggles?” he spat out in disgust. He didn’t care for the boy, but to think Muggles had been doing this to him for ten years? It was disgusting, despicable really, and he was supposed to be Dumbledore’s ward? He scoffed scathingly, Dumbledore had once again, done it. No one deserves this, not even Potter, who had been responsible for the Dark Lord’s defeat. He couldn’t deny he was curious about what went down that night, how the boy had defeated the greatest wizard he knew.

“Why do you hate them?” Harry asked, yawning as he removed his glasses to rub his tired eyes.

Rabastan paused, staring at the boy, he quite honestly didn’t really have an answer, “They’re filthy creatures that need to be put down.” he eventually said honestly, and he had to be honest, it was one of the stipulations in the contract.

“Not all of them are bad,” Harry pointed out yawning again, “Just like not all wizards are,” Dumbledore definitely was in his opinion, and despite what everyone would say about Corvus Lestrange…Harry liked him, and considered him good. At least to him at any rate.

“Did any of the fuckers help you?” Rabastan spat out, instantly regretting the words, but refusing to take them back. He wasn’t going to coddle the deluded brat. Plus, there was a measure of truth in Harry’s words but he didn’t want to admit it.

Corvus barely refrained from closing his eyes in exasperation, praying his son wasn’t about to ruin things. Harry could cancel the contract any time he liked, didn’t Rabastan understand that? Then again, his son probably had no impulse control stuck in here as he was. He noticed Harry didn’t even startle or flinch at the way he was spoken to. Was it the lack of fear due to the contract? Or the normality of him being treated badly that it barely registered?

Harry blinked, “S’pos not,” conceding the point, not even his babysitter Arabella Figg – who got paid before he put a stop to it by the way – she’d known more than most…the only one to really know more than most and had kept quiet. He wouldn’t have known she was magical if not for the fact Corvus had unearthed all the information he needed about her for him. From which family she was originally from, her birth name, her married name, who she married and when the husband died and how long she’d been in her current home. She moved in barely a day after he was put on the Dursley’s doorstep, and that definitely wasn’t a coincidence.

Hearing the simple way Harry agreed with him took the wind right of out Rabastan’s sails. He’d been shoring himself up, ready to argue until he was blue in the face. Quite frankly, hearing Harry defend the bastards despite what they’d done had infuriated him until all he saw was red. Sighing softly, he slumped against the seat, “They don’t deserve you defending them,” he added, just for the hell of it.

“Did you like the book?” Harry asked, taking his previous position, laying his chin on his arms on the desk. “I bought a few more, and some magazine articles your dad said you’d like.”

“Ancient Runes have always been a favourite of mine,” Rabastan replied, he’d read the book ten times, he didn’t care if he was just re-reading what he’d just read. It was something to keep him occupied, he’d been pleasantly surprised to see it if he was honest. It was a hell of a lucky guess, getting him a book not only he hadn’t read but one that was his second favourite subject, next to the Dark Arts. The magazines he noticed were on the Dark Arts, mostly just debates with a few newer spells by the looks of them. There weren’t just a ‘few’ he calculated there were at least thirty-one, that was the entire year subscription. Yes, he knew it was August, the contract had been dated after all. He wondered if the boy had actually bought them or if his father had. Glancing at his father in silent query, and if his father knew him as he thought he did he’d understand.

“We saw it was we were going through the Leaky Cauldron, I merely pointed out that you like to read them, that is all.” Corvus explained, letting his son know that the rest had all been Harry’s idea. He wasn’t being a penny pincher in making sure that his son had plenty in the way of food and entertainment. Which just endeared Corvus to Harry all the more. “Do you know why you pass out in the presence of the Dementors?” he asked the boy, while he was still awake and more importantly, compelled to remain truthful in this room.

“I don’t know,” Harry barely refrained from shrugging his shoulders. “Doesn’t matter,” he’d endure that every week over being at the Dursley’s for a single day.

“Of course it does!” Corvus stated seriously, “Why did you agree to this if you knew how badly the Dementors affected you?” why was he acting like it was no problem?

“It’s not a big deal, why are you making it into one? The Goblins didn’t bother.” Harry pointed out, staring at Corvus perplexed.

Rabastan listened to the conversation, his father was definitely attached, otherwise he wouldn’t be bothering about such a thing either. What did he see in the boy? He wondered, staring intently at Harry as if somehow it would appear. The only thing that popped into his mind was the damn eyes again, there was just something about them. Unfortunately, with how muddled his mind was constantly due to the dementors he couldn’t make it click.

“It’s better than being at the Dursley’s?” it was more of a question than a statement.

“I suppose we should just be grateful you don’t have to listen to terrible memories,” Corvus presumed since he fell unconscious he didn’t get any of the memories replaying in his mind.

Harry pursed his lips, looking shifty as hell, something he would have been able to control if he had full use of his faculties.

Corvus zeroed in on Harry’s look, “Mr. Potter,” Corvus’ voice held a hint of warning, that he would not put up with any lies.

“I hear the night Voldemort attacked,” Harry sighed resignedly.

Corvus barely refrained from pinching his nose in exasperation, “Of course,” what else would someone hear? He would have preferred Harry remembered things from his life with the Dursley’s. He didn’t care for James or Lily Potter, didn’t grieve their deaths, but the boy…the boy probably cared they were his parents after all. Still, it was bound to cause the child pain, he had no memories of his parents and now this? If he hadn’t seen the diagnosis of what Harry endured, he would have been questioning his sanity right now.

“Don’t use his name,” Rabastan hissed out, but for once his mark didn’t flare up, then again it was the first time someone had spoken the name in his presence since the Dark Lord’s defeat. Not that his hissed words were heard as the boy was already dozing off yet again. “The Dursley’s are dead I assume?” changing the subject.

“No, not yet,” Corvus said darkly, “They don’t deserve the mercy of a quick death.” And they wouldn’t get it, not from him.

“Good,” Rabastan replied, wondering how the kid felt about that. “How are you?” he knew his father hadn’t been doing well, but he seemed to have had his spirits buoyed. If it was Harry’s doing then he would be forever grateful for that alone. His father had lost all hope, been so desolate the last time he saw him.

“Things could be better,” Corvus revealed, but they weren’t as bad as he’d endured for the past decade. “I’ve tried repeatedly to get you both single trials and been shot down every single time.”

“You should stop, it’s never going to happen,” Rabastan replied, unable to believe he was saying it, but it was true. If it hadn’t happened in the ten years they’d been in here, it wouldn’t happen now. Hell, Dumbledore would make all the stops to prevent it, especially if he found out who Harry had Betrothed himself to. It just made his father even more desolate when he was denied appeals again and again. Barty had been the lucky one, if you looked at it a certain way anyway. He didn’t know what happened, whether Barty had taken the easy way out and killed himself, all he knew was that he was dead one day and the Dementors took him out and buried him on the island. According to Black anyway, and he was the one closest to Barty’s cell, not that he spoke to them specifically. Unless he had told Bellatrix out of amusement that a ‘Death Eater’ had died sort of way. Either way Barty was definitely gone, he’d been the youngest of all of them, same age as him, he was older by a month. Between Barty and Regulus, he felt a hole where his friends had been.

“I’m never giving up,” Corvus retorted angry at his sons words, he would never give up on his sons or getting them a trial. He just had to find a loophole or something. It was useless, he knew every law the magical world had, and there was no loophole to exploit. He spent at least a month of the year perusing the book of magical law enforcement hoping for a miracle. “Do not ever ask that of me, again.” His boys might have given up on hope, which he sincerely hoped was the Dementor affect and not what he truly thought. Losing hope…well, he might as well say goodbye to his boys if that was the case. “Eat,” he stated, shoving the box of chocolates to his son, seeing if that would make any difference.

For the rest of the hour Corvus spoke about the changes in the Magical world, ones Dumbledore had made, new spells and such that had been created. Quite happy to just talk to his son about everything and anything that came to mind. There was no more talk of Harry afterwards, although Corvus did notice his son glancing at the boy occasionally then to the list as he ate the chocolate. The reaction he’d expected coming to his eyes, the slow simmering rage that spoke of a deep desire to kill the Muggles. Sure, he’d asked that question, about the Dursley’s, but there hadn’t been much in the way of emotion behind his general disgust at Muggles.

“Last night I begun to pour over all the information available from the Potter Estate…” Corvus informed his son, “It’s been stagnant for the past decade. There hasn’t been a single Knut coming in and quite a fair bit consistently being withdrew. It’s a good job that the Potter Estate was immense to begin with, otherwise I fear that the accounts may well have ended up drained by the time the boy was seventeen.” Fortunately, the interest on the vaults prevented serious depletions in his gold. Between that and the investments of course, he could barely believe what he was seeing. Then again Dumbledore had what he wanted…the Potter seats, the estate wasn’t a priority apparently.

Depleting someone’s fortune was a good way for them to turn their backs on you. Which the boy had done, and that was without the damn monetary incentive. Then again as his magical guardian, Dumbledore could have stopped Harry finding out until it was too late and he was already an adult. It was duplicitous, disgusting and amoral but nonetheless it could be done. Yet, the boy had worked around Dumbledore and freed himself, he was almost proud of the Slytherin cunning the boy possessed. “Where do you reckon the boy will be placed?” Rabastan asked.

Corvus thought about it, “It’s difficult to say, given his past I think perhaps Slytherin,” those who suffered abuse to the extent Harry has…did not trust easily or at all but yearned for true friendship. Both attributes that were most definitely Slytherin. “If he ends up in the House of Slytherin…I do believe he may end up ostracized from every one of the students at school.” Both in and outside of Slytherin, due to circumstances definitely beyond Harry’s control. He wasn’t going to be impressed if he had to urge the parents of the students in Slytherin in order for them to reconsider and get their offspring to reconsider their actions. Nobody wanted to mess with the Lestrange family after all, it was never good for ones health, the Dursley’s would be the first in a long time to experience that particular promise even if they didn’t know the Lestrange name.

-------0

So, there we go! How many more chapters do you think we should have before we begin the ‘yearly’ chapters which by the way may end up being longer than 6 thousand words…probably double. I know you all want to see Corvus and Harry bonding, so that will definitely happen in the next chapter…so what would you like to see Harry doing? His hobbies? Spell crafting/weaving? Harnessing his ability to Metamorphamagus? Not fully though just harnessing what he can change about himself, his hair is definitely one of them from canon. Drawing? Painting? Ice Skating? Rune-dominoes? As for his career that hasn’t been decided yet, it will be a while before that. I’d like to make it different from the usual, Auror, healer or teacher or potions master…so thinking caps on! :D as the sorting hat would say! It’s the only thing that’s really not decided upon by now! Will Corvus reveal Voldemort’s identity or will Harry’s questions regarding that name bring up alarm bells during the whole diary debacle? Will he even bother about the chamber being opened? He won’t be insecure and worried about ending up with Muggles after all! Will Dumbledore misappropriate Ministry usage by declaring Harry missing in a bid to lure Harry and his Betrothed into the open? Beginning his manipulations before Harry even meets him causing Harry’s opinion – which isn’t great – to take a nosedive and have Corvus give his own opinion without colouring Harry’s view due to the fact he was already seeing first hand? In other words no manipulation in order to make Harry hate Dumbledore he’s doing it on his own! Or will Dumbledore play the waiting game and begin his manipulations when Harry finally gets to Hogwarts? I’ve never seen Harry actually deciding to pull out of Hogwarts and attend elsewhere…would you like to see it happen? When Dumbledore’s manipulations go too far for either Corvus or Harry to tolerate? Read and Review please! 😊

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 9

"I have a gift for you," Corvus revealed, handing over the green and silver wrapped package. It was the only colour he had so that was what he used. Having seen just how thoughtful Harry was to his son, he felt the need to give him something in return, that was solely his. The items he'd already received were necessities not gifts, and of course, items for his owl. Despite only knowing Harry for a handful of days, it didn't take him long to find just the right thing for him. That spoke volumes regarding his watchfulness on the young boy.

Millicent had already been, and had seen to Harry this morning, and she was pleased he was putting on weight. It was only a little, from what Corvus could see, but it was enough to please the healer. It would take a while for him to be the right weight for his age, but that would come with time. He'd eaten his breakfast, a little bit more than usual, and didn't need prompted quite so often to eat. The table had been cleared of breakfast, so Harry was easily able to place the gift in front of him with an unsure yet pleased look on his face. He definitely needed to find another way to make the Dursley's lives a misery, they deserved a whole lot worse than they'd received thus far.

Harry stared at the gift, emotions swamping him in droves, most of which he kept hidden from the wizard watching him so closely. Surprisingly, it didn't bother him the way he kept such a close eye on him. He almost didn't want to open it, the package was done perfectly, nothing, not even a corner was out of place. He'd gone his entire life ignored, to have someone pay attention was…heart-warming, to have someone care…was more than he'd ever hoped for in a long time. He'd given up on being 'rescued' or miraculously having someone take him away years ago.

"Go ahead, open it," Corvus urged him, wondering if he actually didn't know how to process what was happening. He wanted to see his face when he opened it. It surprised him how excited he was these days, he'd been getting up and going through the motions, existing but not truly living. He had a reason to get up in the morning, that wasn't just wizengamot meetings and such or trying to find a way to get his sons out of prison. "You may consider it a late birthday gift if you wish,"

Harry swallowed thickly, before he moved towards it, with shaky fingers he delicately peeled open the paper, refusing to rip it.

Corvus found his fingers twitching, impatiently wishing to rip it open for the boy who was taking too long. Finally, finally, the paper was removed, leaving just a plain yet smooth box that was the size of the place mat. Although, when Harry opened it, he found out that it was magically enhanced, fitting more inside than should otherwise be possible. The look on his face made Corvus smirk internally.

Harry's eyes roved over everything he could see, pads of paper all different sizes, a tray of coloured pencils, pencils, quills, charcoal, water colours, tubes of paints, with a tray presumably for putting the acrylic paint on. A professional set of paintbrushes, and a miniature stand…he didn't get how that would work.

"Set it down, let me show you how to do it," Corvus informed him, seeing Harry looking at the paint stand with a baffled look on his face. "Engorgio!" saying the word clearly and concisely so Harry would easily remember it. Then the wooden Easel tripod grew in size, becoming much more suitable in order to draw or paint. "In order to shrink it back down, the words are…"

"Reducio, right?" Harry said excitedly.

"Correct," Corvus agreed, pride glinting within his dark eyes, eyes he'd passed onto his sons. "Well done, you're memorising things quickly," that would only help him in the long run when it came to learning everything he needed. To the added pride, it was a forth year spell if he remembered his time at Hogwarts correctly.

"I…er…I've always been good at that," Harry said, shifting slightly, flushing in embarrassment.

"Head up," Corvus stated sharply, "Never be embarrassed by your abilities or sharp focus," he knew it wasn't Harry's fault, and he wasn't about to let it continue. Nodding in approval when Harry's chin jutted out in pride, perfect, he might not feel it, but in time he would.

"But why these?" Harry asked, a frown marring his features, he'd never indicated that he liked drawing…not even once.

Corvus could see the suspicion lingering in those green eyes, and he realized his mistake. Of course, Harry had no idea he had seen the pictures he'd drawn in Privet Drive. He had talent, and it might amount to something or he may just prefer it as a hobby. Either way, it was a way to interact with Harry in a way he'd find comfort in. "When I was a young boy tutors were brought in to teach me the way of the arts. Dancing, drawing, painting, musical instruments. My sons were given the same lessons, it's part of our culture."

"What do you play?" Harry asked, stroking the painting materials with reverence.

"The piano," Corvus said proudly, and he could still play well to this day. "My sons chose the same," it's why the grand piano took its pride of place in the centre of the hallway. "I was hoping that I could teach you to draw as a way of spending time together until you're giving the all clear and are up for more…strenuous activities." It would keep Harry's mind active, prevent utter boredom there was nothing worse than monotony.

"I'd like that!" Harry agreed, when Corvus said he'd get a chance to be a kid, he hadn't expected this. As much as he loved reading…even he was getting to find the constant reading tedious. He was reading so much, he loved it, he really did, but there was such a thing as too much. Especially when Harry wanted to investigate everything, his surroundings, magic, he was so exited but he ached too much to actually express it.

"Shall we then?" Corvus suggested, "We only have a few hours then I must do a few household chores,"

Harry blinked, surprise filtering over his features, "You…don't make the House-elves do everything?"

"They cannot do everything," Corvus said amused, "It is something I do for a break from the monotony, I check upon the creatures that call Lestrange Manor home." The House-elves do the basic, let them out of their paddocks and such, cleaned their stalls out, but he brushed them down, sometimes took them out to run but he was an old man it wasn't very often. Make sure they were all healthy, he needed something to do.

"Can I come?" Harry asked, he hadn't read upon magical creatures yet, were they even magical or just the normal ones you'd find in a manor like this? Chickens, swans, pigs, sheep and things like that? He hadn't seen anything yet, but he hadn't spend a lot outside. He'd been doing his exercises inside, and he was way to exhausted after doing them to dream about wandering around the manor grounds. He barely had the strength to get up the stairs to his room to take a nap, then it was time to eat again.

"We can do it, so long as you finish your exercise plan afterwards," Corvus stated, they had only a few weeks to get Harry into optimal physical health. It was needed, going up seven flights of stairs wasn't easily done even for a fit and healthy teenager. So, these few weeks were vital, for more reason than one.

"I'll try," Harry swore solemnly.

Corvus' lips twitched, noticing the lack of promise, good, it seemed the boy wouldn't make promises he didn't know if he could keep.
Without more ado, Corvus ordered the House-elves to bring down his drawing equipment as Harry eagerly set his own. Corvus hadn't seen this sort of excitement from Harry yet. He was very pleased he'd had this forethought, he found himself quite happy as well. Of course, Harry didn't need any aid in drawing, in fact without his broken fingers hindering his progress he was actually well accomplished for an eleven-year-old boy. He noticed it was the manor that Harry was drawing, Corvus begun to draw Hogwarts, occasionally Corvus would give him tips on how to better his drawing, regardless of that he was a natural.

Beside the corrections, they sat in silence until Harry surprisingly enough, initiated the conversation.

"Did Rodolphus and Rabastan really torture someone?" Harry asked, surprisingly the hell out of himself and Corvus.

Corvus immediately paused in his drawing, unsureness crawling at him. He honestly wasn't sure how he could explain it to an eleven-year-old boy. Not without him being utterly disgusted by it, but it had been war. His mind dwelled on how to explain it in a way that might not be quite so…grave. Unfortunately, there truly wasn't a way to explain it. He promised him the truth, so Corvus would have to give it to him.

"It doesn't matter, I'm sorry," Harry said immediately, eyes wide looking scared for the first time at Corvus' stillness.

"Never apologise for wanting answers, Mr. Potter," Corvus stated seriously, ignoring the fear in Harry's eyes. He didn't need mollycoddled, he'd understand in a few moments that nothing was going to happen to him here. With or without the contract he wasn't about to raise a hand to a child. He'd never raised a hand or a wand – except the occasional smacking jinx to the boys backsides when they were cheeky – against his sons, and he wouldn't do it to Harry. "It's understandable that you would want to know, and I am quite…relieved you would seek confirmation than just believing what you heard." It boded well for the future, at least if Harry heard rumours, he would come to him to seek the validity of the claims.

Harry immediately deflated in relief, almost shaky with the adrenaline rushing through him.

"You must understand that when the Dark Lord was defeated, the Dark Side mourned his passing, he was, to us, trying to better the magical world. The laws regarding Muggles and their knowing were becoming more and more lax. We fear one day, that they will all learn of us and we will be placed in immense danger. Not only do they know of us, but they know how to get to us, which is frankly even more dangerous." Corvus explained, and Harry as always listened intently, no judgement passing his features. "His death was sudden and it shook everyone to the core, many feeling adrift and angry over what happened. My sons along with their friend and Bellatrix did indeed try to find answers, they believed the Longbottoms to have those answers."

Harry listened, having heard what the goblins had to say, he wasn't surprised by the answer.

"Bellatrix had always suffered an impetuousness, which only got worse with time, losing the Dark Lord was the stick that broken the hippogriffs back. She and Barty were inconsolable, he was more than just their Lord to them, he was a father figure, someone who helped them become better in their opinion." Corvus continued, "So, yes, they went to Longbottom manor and sought answers, and yes they did torture them, but it was Bellatrix and Barty that went too far and held onto the curse until it broke their minds. Make no mistake, my sons took part, but they did not curse the Longbottoms into insanity."

"How much more time is on their sentence?" Harry asked quietly, his tone reserved. "How long is a life sentence in the magical world?" In Muggle terms he knew it was somewhere between seventeen to twenty-five years, something he'd heard on the news once, his Uncle had grumbled about it not being long enough and they should suffer more that decent folk shouldn't need to be anywhere near the 'disgusting scum of society' as it were.

Corvus gave Harry an odd look, "A Life sentence is exactly that, Mr. Potter, they are never released from Azkaban when they receive a life sentencing." Finding his question completely absurd but the boy was still young, he probably knew nothing regarding the laws and regulations that policed the world.

"I guess it's different from Muggle laws then," Harry said quietly, feeling bad for Corvus, "I'm sorry," sorry he'd lost his sons, sorry he'd never see them freed from the island.

"Explain," Corvus commanded, turning to face the boy again, an intense look on his face. "What is this about Muggle laws?"

"Um, well…when Muggles are sentenced to prison for life they're sent for somewhere between seventeen to twenty-five years, depending on when they're eligible for parole." Harry explained, baffled as to why Corvus wished to know about Muggle laws when he hated them so much. "Parole is when they're released early for good behaviour."

"The Wizarding Laws…Mr. Potter…are based of Muggle law," Corvus said, giving the boy a knowing look, he could basically see the question behind those green eyes. Had he been looking at it wrong the entire time? How could he be so stupid as to not consider Muggle Law the solution to his problem?

"Not in all ways," Harry said shaking his head, their drawing completely forgotten, "Azkaban wouldn't exist in its state if that were true," he might be eleven but he knew it was wrong the way they were treated in Azkaban. "And I don't mean because of the Dementors."

"Care to elaborate on that?" Corvus asked, intrigued by Harry's nature and knowledge.

"They're…dirty," Harry said hesitantly, "They obviously don't have showers, prisons have shops they can buy stuff like toiletries, clothes I think and food. They're allowed visitors more than just once a year and have three meals a day," Rabastan definitely didn't get three meals a day, he was thinner than him and that was saying something. "There is a law called the human rights act, they're trying to change how things are for people," Harry absently added the date of the human rights act passed.

"How is it that an eleven year old such as yourself knows about the laws so well?" Corvus asked, especially the dates which spoke of a good head under that nest of hair. He needed to go to Gringotts, get a copy of all this human rights act laws and other laws that might help him. He wanted to read it all himself before he brought in a lawyer, as much as he trusted him, he'd rather try himself. His thoughts were temporarily cut off at Harry's next words.

"I…I wanted to get a good job when I left school, to help people," Harry stuttered out, people like him so he read everything he could get his hands on. "I spent a lot of time in the school library, I didn't have friends my cousin scared them all away…and he never went near the library so I had somewhere to hide." something that would earn him a lot of money so he didn't have to ever depend on anyone else ever again. Things had changed though, everything had changed now.

Corvus' face spasmed, he wasn't even given a reprieve at school, they completely dominated his entire life. Left him completely ashore, did he even know how to make friends? "And would you like to make a few friends?" he asked, wondering who he could ask to come here in order to befriend Harry. It would need to be someone he trusted, those that wouldn't blab. Someone who wouldn't overwhelm Harry. Draco had a very domineering personality, to begin with, it was best he didn't make friends with Harry first. Theodore Nott would be acceptable, good strong name, powerful, quiet, Blaise Zabini as well, he was neutral a perfect person for Harry to befriend.

Harry stared at the floor, giving one single nod, yes, of course, he'd like friends. Unfortunately, he didn't have any, and he had no idea how to make them. Even thinking about it made his stomach squirm unpleasantly. He wanted to have a good life here, but he honestly had no idea what to say or do to make friends. He'd stopped trying after Dudley had beaten up yet another boy for spending time with him.

"Shall I invite a few people over? See if you get on with them? They will be students at Hogwarts so you won't be going there unprepared?" Corvus questioned, the Greengrass girls were probably also a good idea, they were already Betrothed as was Harry, there was nothing improper about it. Unfortunately, he couldn't get them to come immediately, which would have been preferable, but definitely not doable.
Not only because he couldn't expect them to just drop everything, but Harry still needed a little more training before meeting them otherwise it wouldn't go well.

A ghost of a smile appeared on Harry's face, giving him an almost shy look, but it disappeared as soon as it appeared.

"Right now, regretfully I must leave," Corvus explained, "I shouldn't be gone more than half an hour,"

"Are we still going to see the animals?" Harry asked, unable to completely hide his hopefulness, Occlumency definitely needed to be on the cards and soon.

"Of course," Corvus promised, he'd planned on drawing for at least another hour or so. "You continue the picture and I'll be back soon." It was the first time he'd actually left Harry alone in the manor. It would need to happen, he didn't want Harry getting too attached, he wanted to make Harry independent. Getting attached to him and suffering separation anxiety wasn't one of the things he wanted happening. After being alone so long without anyone caring, Corvus wouldn't be surprised if such a thing happened inadvertently.

He would be ordering a House-elf to keep an eye on him, so far he hadn't had a negative reaction from the potions but he wouldn't take any risks. Plus, he did still get over excited and dizzy at times, and he'd been there to prevent him toppling over. He wouldn't be leaving unless it was important, if this could get his sons out of prison then he'd damn well take it. If this worked…he owed Harry more than he could ever repay. He was getting a bit ahead of himself, reigning it in, he stood up and pressed a reassuring hand against Harry's shoulder, "You are safe here, there is nothing to worry about," he wasn't sure if it was a worry or not, but best nip those in the bud.

"I know magic now, I'm not afraid," Harry said with steely resolve. He would continue to learn it too, until he knew everything. He would never let himself be vulnerable ever again. Whether it be a wizard or Muggle, he'd do whatever it took to defend himself.

"Good," Corvus stated firmly, he definitely had a long way to go before that happened, but Corvus was teaching him everything he could think of. Including quite a few defensive spells, he didn't care if they weren't supposed to know them until they were fifteen and up. The blasting curse was one he definitely wanted to learn.

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"I need to see Irx immediately," Corvus demanded of the goblin on the tellers. With it still being early, he didn't have to wait in line, which would have made him extremely irate. He needed that information, and this was the only place to acquire that information. Short of going into the Muggle world, which he definitely didn't want to do. If he went there again it would be to crush the Dursley's like the bugs they are.

"He can see you now," Griphook informed Corvus, not even having to glance down to see if Irx was busy, he had only two accounts, the immense Lestrange estate and the Greengrass estate. "If you'll follow me," climbing down, the goblin made a beeline for the offices, walking as fast as his little legs could carry him, and Corvus was easily able to keep up. With the amount of money in the Lestrange estate, it was little wonder he was always giving service asap.

The door was opened, and Corvus gave Griphook a nod in thanks and acknowledgement. Normally the goblins didn't interfere with human affairs, and wondered why that had changed. Was it because Dumbledore was messing around with the monetary affairs of the Potter Estate?
Corvus froze when he heard Dumbledore's voice.

"I demand to speak to the Potter Estate goblin immediately," he spoke in a strangled voice, as if he was trying to remain polite.

Corvus raised a hand, causing Griphook to pause in closing the door, a feral smirk appearing on his face.

"I have no desire to speak about the Potter Estate, I just wish to have a conversation with Trerx!" Dumbledore answered the goblin, presumably, since Corvus didn't hear his voice. "I understand I'm no longer in charge of the running of the estate, I still wish to speak to Trerx!"

"Albus…come on, they won't change their mind," another voice joined the conversation. His voice becoming more clear as he moved closer towards Dumbledore. "Let's go before they get the goblin guards to escort you out."

"Bill, I have to…" Dumbledore's voice was now desperate.

"I know, but the goblins aren't going to tell you who Harry's Betrothed to, it's illegal," Bill said soothingly, "I'm sure Harry will tell you when he comes to Hogwarts. Whoever it is isn't going to hurt him, and you know he doesn't have to accept their suit after the Betrothal is over." Trying to ease Dumbledore's worries and fears.

Corvus arched an eyebrow when he realized it was one of the Weasley's, Bill, if he recalled correctly.

"Of course," Dumbledore said, reclaiming his lost control, "I'm sure that is true, I guess it's time to visit Harry again," lying through his teeth, he'd never met the boy since he dropped him off at Privet Drive.

Unfortunately, for him, if he had just read his mail, especially from Arabella Figg, he'd already be aware that Harry Potter wasn't at Privet Drive. That none of the Dursley's were at Privet Drive. They say ignorance is bliss, in this case it was, for when he finds out his anxiety and fear will skyrocket.

"Why didn't you just do that?" Bill asked, perplexed as they walked by the room Corvus was currently in.

"I didn't want to cause any more stifle, no doubt the dear boy is confused," Albus sighed, he didn't want the boy to become aware of anything pertaining to him until he was at Hogwarts. He wanted him unaware of the say he'd had in his life. He wanted him to acknowledge him as only the Headmaster and mentor, and remain completely obvious to anything about his Estate or the hand he had in being his magical guardian. Or the fact he dropped the boy off there, at least until he was firmly entrenched within his life and wouldn't react negatively towards the knowledge. Be deluded in the belief that Albus only wanted what was best for him. By then it wouldn't matter, it would be ingrained in his mind to do what he needed for the greater good. "Having to explain everything isn't going to be easily done," but unfortunately, he was out of options.

Corvus snorted derisively, he'd never heard such utter nonsense in his life, utter garbage.

"How can I help you today, Lord Lestrange?" Irx asked, from behind the desk once he'd stopped eavesdropping on Dumbledore and their employees conversation. A nod had Griphook finally closing the door the rest of the day and leaving them in the privacy of the room.

"I would like all information pertaining to Muggle laws, specifically to do with prisons, laws and regulations and the human rights act." Corvus demanded, in his usual curt fashion. The goblins hated their time wasted just as much as the pureblood's did, and to their interactions were usually straight to the point.

"Would you like them delivered or wait here until everything is copied?" Irx questioned, straightening up, it wasn't the first time they'd tried to help Lord Lestrange with his sons, but it was the first time he'd ever asked about Muggle laws.

"How long will it take?" Corvus asked, his spine straight and tall as he observed the goblin.

"Forty-five minutes, give or take," Irx explained, it was a lot to copy and much of it was individual pieces of paper. Some were thankfully bound in book form, which would make it easier.

He definitely didn't want to waste an hour of his time waiting for information. Even if the information was important, he had something that could be done, he didn't necessary need to wait. "I'll have a House-elf pick up the paperwork," Corvus decided, "I'll send them by in half an hour, is that agreeable?" he'd never actually used a House-elf to pick up documents from Gringotts before.

"Of course, I'll inform the others," Irx agreed, he was sure the Lestrange House-elves had some insignia of the Lestrange crest making them perfectly identifiable.

"You have my thanks," Corvus replied, "May your coffers never empty, Irx," giving a short curt nod of his head.

"And you," Irx replied, already on the move but to nobody's surprise Corvus was easily out of the room before the goblin got half way to the door.

Corvus pressed his lips in a firm line as he made his way out of Gringotts, his mind ticking over ideas of what Dumbledore might be up to. More accurately what he might do next, he'd lost a spectacular amount of power in a single day. He was quite frankly, surprised he hadn't already tried to find Harry when he found out about the Betrothal agreement. Why? Why hadn't he gone right to the child to find out more information? Unless he'd been more interested in his Betrothal and the contract itself, why? To see if he could manipulate them? Regain his lost status? If he found Harry Potter missing what would he do? Ignore it and hope for the best that Harry turns up at Hogwarts or immediately go to the Ministry and try to wrestle back magical guardianship of Harry?

He wished he was able to accurately predict Dumbledore more easily, but he didn't know the old fool that well. Frowning in silent contemplation, he ambled towards the Leaky Cauldron, he wished to use their Floo Network to return to Lestrange Manor, it would save him some time. Luckily most people moved out of his way as he approached, knowing better than to get close to 'the Lestranges' due to their instability. They should thank their lucky stars he wasn't insane as they liked to make out, otherwise none of these fools would be alive. He was in a foul mood between Dumbledore's lies and the unknown, if anyone could manage to get the Betrothal overturned it would be the old fool. It was vital he never found out, he had to make that clear to Harry.

Scooping up a handful of the powder, he left a sickle in the coin box before calling out 'Lestrange Manor'. He found himself back in his office, rubbing his face almost tiredly, to think it was only the beginning of the day.

It was life such as it was, he didn't regret it at all.

--------0

"Ah, Mr. Potter, that is…wonderfully done," for someone who hadn't been outside the manor often since he came…it was very detailed. Perhaps Harry hadn't been even remotely bragging when he said he remembered things. "Why charcoal?" he had used his knife to make it a very thin point.

"I prefer using a pencil as an outline," Harry said, smiling almost shyly, "Muggles use them, they make their drawings tidy, less smudged." He explained.

Corvus conceded the point, "That is the beauty of magic," he said kindly, amusement sparkling within his eyes, how was it just seeing the boy and how talented he was changed his mood so abruptly? "See? Erado!" and the smudges on his own drawing disappeared leaving crisp white paper behind. Yet another spell for Harry's increasing spellbinding awareness of all things magical. His picture cleared up, albeit still unfinished.

"Wicked," Harry whispered reverently, he loved magic.

"It is mesmerising," Corvus informed him, unconsciously trying to get Harry to use different words from the plebeian words such as 'wicked' and 'cool' he needed taught and Corvus was quite happy to teach him everything he needed to know. "Now, how are you feeling?" he was no longer 'high' as it were, when it came to the pain relief draughts he was on, he had gotten used to them, that and the fact he was eating a little more.

"I'm well," Harry murmured, still feeling decidedly uncomfortable at being asked questions – that someone actually wanted to hear the truth – about his wellbeing.

"Then perhaps we should head out?" Corvus said, proud that Harry was beginning to speak properly, his short bursts of elocution lessons were beginning to pay off.

Harry's head snapped up, "You mean we're going?" he asked, hope momentarily blazing through his green orbs. The same green orbs that was fascinating and infuriating Rabastan due to his inability to remember why.

"Of course, only dire emergencies will see to it that I do not keep the promises I make. If I do for whatever reason, break it, I will make sure to amend that promise to it's kept thusly." Corvus explained, "I do not break my promises." He repeated himself, he knew, but given time Harry would begin to understand.

Harry's lips twitched, he nodded once and stood, ready to follow Corvus to see the property. Get some fresh air that wasn't circulating the inside of the house.

"While I attended Gringotts this morning, I overheard a conversation by Dumbledore," Corvus explained, watching Harry stiffen, he swore he even saw his hair stand on end.

"What about?" Harry asked, barely refraining from shuddering, the amount of control he realized Dumbledore had had over him freaked him the hell out. He'd asked Corvus for the information, which he had given him then proceeded to give him a book to read – more like three chapters really on magical guardians – it was as if he was wanting Harry to constantly double check all information for himself. So that he knew Corvus wasn't lying to him or being disingenuous.

"He has made plans to visit your previous home in Privet Drive, I am unsure how long it will take for him to realize you are no longer there," Corvus explained to him, as they wandered though the manor and out into the bright sunlight. Which he noticed, hurt Harry's eyes still.

"He didn't already know?" Harry asked, his tone soft and slightly perplexed.

"Apparently not," Corvus replied, watching Harry closely as he climbed the few steps in the garden and through the archway towards the grounds stables and outhouses for the animals he kept. They were a good source of comfort to him as well a good source of income, the animals were rare enough to bring in a lot of money.

"What does it mean?" Harry asked warily, but his wariness couldn't be continued as he looked around the grounds. His walk was slow as he observed everything with reverence. A gasp leaving his lips as an animal's face popped out of its enclosure, it's beak was probably the same length as his arm. It was the most intimidating but beautiful thing he'd ever seen.

"It means nothing, for now, we just have to be extremely careful, despite losing a lot of power he still has a lot of influence." Corvus explained. That was what probably irked him the most, about the old fool.

"The goblins promised he couldn't do anything about the contract," Harry's voice raised an octave higher, as he begun to panic a little.

"They are correct, only you have a say when it comes to the contract being terminated, or if something happens that the contract forbids it automatically annuls in our favour." Corvus was as always extremely truthful. Perhaps a little too truthful, but it was better prepared than doing something unwittingly.

Harry breathed out in relief, grateful for the confirmation. Both Corvus and the Goblins couldn't be wrong after all.

"Now these, Mr. Potter are winged horses, Aethonan, which is a chestnut breed that is popular here in Britain and Ireland and this one is a Granian, they're known in particular for their speed, they're very fast." Corvus explained, pointing out both breeds, two of each in different stalls, which were large enough that they could spread their wings comfortably. "This one here, is an Abraxan – A giant palomino breed. Drinks only single-malt whiskey. They are all hand reared, and will be amendable to your presence. Go ahead, stand before them, give a little bow avoid eye contact until they see that you respect them and grant you permission to touch them."

Harry cast both Corvus and the winged horses doubtful looks, they were massive creatures, muscular and quite frankly intimidating as hell. Why would anyone want to be vulnerable in front of these creatures? They deserved it…the whispered thought entered his mind, breathing deeply, he stepped in front of them, a chestnut coloured one, and bowed slightly stiff as he waited.

He almost jumped out of his skin when the beak pressed against his shoulder in greeting.

Corvus had to swiftly smother his amusement, but he feared he failed judging by the indignant green eyes that stared back at him for a moment. The loneliness he'd suffered through for the past ten years begun to fade a little more, as he grew more accustomed and fond of Harry.

The next words increased it..."I'd like it...if you...called me Harry," his tone hesitant but strong.

"It would be my pleasure, Harry," Corvus said with pride.

--------0

A/N – I know the human rights act didn't come into real use until 2002 receiving royal accent in 1998 not sure if its' going to be used or not it's merely something I'm adding just in case it's needed! IF it is it will have been 'made' to pass earlier I think, I'm not sure 😊 So, everyone seems eager to see Harry attend a different school…SO will we see Harry remaining out of Hogwarts due to not making as much progress – due to his illness – to attend for his first year? And attending for his second year – with private tutors – before deciding against staying at Hogwarts or will it happen after Corvus learns Harry was nearly bitten by a werewolf and accosted by Peter Pettigrew? When will we see Harry leave the school if he goes? Where will he attend instead? Durmstrang? Ilvermorny? Beauxbaton (he wont join the others for the tournament) or will Harry decide on private tutoring? the school isn't going to be an important part of the story anyway it's mostly going to be Rabastan and Harry's relationship throughout the years! When will Rabastan and Rodolphus get out? Broken out? Freed? Pardoned? So many options! Will Corvus be able to keep Harry safe and in his life when the Dark Lord returns or will he grow distant in a bid to protect the teen? And I love the ideas for jobs you guys suggested! It's going to be impossible to decide now :D I'll be keeping them all in mind especially for other stories in future! I suppose I should have at least one or two more chapters before we get to the decision about 'Hogwarts' and then the yearly chapters on the road! Read and Review please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 10

Corvus watched over Harry with a watchful penetrating gaze, that spoke of protectiveness and not just curiosity these days. Harry was becoming more outspoken, gaining strength not just bodily but in spirit. Not so shy as he gained confidence, he was beginning to develop his own opinions on everything, not just information he was gaining while learning. He wasn’t being entirely self-taught, Corvus was aiding him when needed, encouraging it even, but when Harry needed help, he was there and teaching him all he needed to know. He was far from being an expert in anything, but the small amount of time he’d been here, he’d shown resilience and determination to learn all he could. He was extremely proud of the young boy, he had the grit and fortitude to plough through everything and overcome his shortcomings.

As they finished feeding the last of the others Harry’s voiced pipped up. He had been ready to get Harry in for a rest – and if the past was any indication something to read – he was no longer needing naps every hour or so. Harry delighted in helping him care for the animals, whether it was letting them out to roam, getting them back in to feed them, or even brush their coats.

“What’s in there?” Harry asked, he’d never been inside, and the time he’d tried, it had stopped him in his tracks. He literally couldn’t open the door to see for himself. He’d seen the rest of the animals, multiple times, Harry loves those hours where he and Corvus looked after the animals, not just looking after, interacting and Corvus told him everything he knew about them. Which was a lot, and he devoured any and all information Corvus gave him.

“Ah, I’m surprised you’ve taken so long to ask that question,” Corvus didn’t need to glance in the direction Harry was pointing towards. There was only one other outhouse out here. It was farther away from the other animals, and also secure as can be. Harry knew every nook and cranny of Lestrange Manor grounds, he’d even fed the birds and swans upon the moat. He got exhausted, didn’t stop when he suggested it, due to his ill health, but Harry refused to be deterred. Honestly, Corvus wasn’t sure whether Harry had been allowed outside to just play, to investigate so he couldn’t bring himself to order Harry away. Asking the healer for her opinion, Millicent suggested as long as he was eating and doing his exercises that he should just let Harry set his own pace. Although, if he ended up falling and hurting himself, then definitely put a stop to his active wanderings. So far, Harry had been aware of his own limitations and that was enough for him. when he wasn’t outside investigating he was buried in a book or eating – even both which Corvus definitely didn’t approve of – considering it wasn’t his precious books worth thousands of Galleons he didn’t protest. Outwardly at least.

Harry glanced up at Corvus, who was like a giant compared to him, he was lucky if he came mid-chest if he stretched up. “Is it dangerous?” it was the only thing he could deduce. It had to be really dangerous though, since some of them Corvus had let him see were deemed ‘dangerous’ but maybe he was just being careful.

All animals had the capacity to be dangerous, Corvus said, especially if you don’t treat them with respect.

“They are, as a matter of fact, inside that hut, is where I keep the snakes, Runespoor, their venom is very sought after, as is their eggs,” Corvus stated, “They’re extremely venomous and rather…temperamental,” at least from what he could deduce from their hissing at any rate.

“Snakes?” Harry perked up immediately, eyes wide with wonder, “Can I see? Please?” his green eyes pleading with Corvus’ his desire evident.

“Of course,” Corvus agreed, instantly giving into Harry’s begging. He would have hated himself if not for the fact he felt true fondness for the child. He was going soft, his sons would have been laughing at him if they had been there to see this. Laughing or judging him either way, not that he’d been able to deny his sons anything either.

“I went to the Zoo once,” Harry confessed quietly, as they begun to walk towards the hut, Harry almost jumping in excitement, “My aunt couldn’t get Figg to babysit because she’d broken her leg I think, I can’t quite remember…or maybe someone she knew had broken their leg. I didn’t pay much attention, they didn’t like leaving me at home alone, I think they were worried I’d do something to the house.”

“Ah, I see,” Corvus replied, his anger at the Dursley’s couldn’t become any more apparent, he’d already heard the worst of it. As he gained more trust from the boy, he began to talk a little more about his life, especially when he was excited. Corvus found that Harry was less close mouthed when he was very happy. Almost as if he forgot he was meant to be quiet – as he often was told to be at the Dursley’s – ‘as if he didn’t exist’ was the words they liked to use. He never hid how much he didn’t approve of the Dursley’s and Harry soaked up the fact someone truly cared enough to be angry on his behalf.

“It was fun, I even got to have some ice cream that Dudley didn’t like,” Harry continued, “I liked the snakes the best, the one I spoke to was bred in captivity,”

Assuming Harry had conversed with the snake, a one sided conversation, he nodded, “I too often talk to the animals, they are smarter than people give credit for.” it soothed them as well. Allowed one to confess all their secrets knowing they would actually remain a secret.

Harry gave Corvus a strange look, was it a wizarding magic trick? The ability to talk to animals? Then why could he only converse with snakes? Maybe it was different with them all? “You can talk to animals?” he queried, he supposed it wasn’t that big a surprise if he had so many of them here at the manor.

“No, only specific wizards can talk to animals,” Corvus explained, “There are bird speakers, and of course, my personal favourite…” Corvus opened the door and the immediate hissing was heard. “Parseltongue, a snake speaker, someone who can speak to snakes is referred to as a Parselmouth.”

Harry made a little noise of surprise, so that’s what he was? A Parselmouth and a choked chortle left his lips before he laughed, a full belly laugh.

Corvus stated nonplussed by Harry’s behaviour at the same time a little amused, he hadn’t seen Harry laugh like that before. “And what has tickled your fancy?” wondering what had gotten him so happy. Was it the fact he was seeing a snake with three different heads? He mused, it was perhaps something Harry wound find amusing, such sights might be new and a little incredulous for him.

“They’re funny,” Harry said, sniggering.

“Yes, I’m sure to you, they do look it,” Corvus answered, lips twitching in amusement, “A common sight here, you’ll find.” Stepping closer so that Harry could see them a little more clearly, they were at the back of their enclosure.

“No, I mean they’re funny, they call you the food human,” Harry said with a wicked grin, “They aren’t pleased you don’t have anything for them though,” he added offhandedly.

Corvus stumbled over his own feet, staring at Harry in unconcealed disbelief, embarrassment coursing through him. He had acted like a lowly Muggle-born brat, stumbling over his own feet like a toddler. Straightening up, his cheeks only slightly red, unnoticeable to most. He was grateful there was nobody else around to notice his slip in composure. Well, anyone except Harry of course. “Could you repeat that?” he asked, almost positive that he had misunderstood everything the boy had said only moments ago.

“They want something to eat,” Harry pointed to them, “They have different personalities, its weird,” it was like talking to three different people.

Corvus’ jaw dropped, definitely hadn’t misunderstood, his eyes widened when Harry begun hissing back at them. Bloody hell, the boy was a Parselmouth. “You’re a Parselmouth,” he murmured in awe, he needed to see the Potter lineage immediately. This gift was for only Slytherin descendants, Harry Potter had to be related to not only the Dark Lord but the great Salazar Slytherin. Merlin, help him, he truly wanted the boy to be in his family now. It would be the best thing that had happened to the Lestrange’s for generations. To think he had been impressed with Bellatrix because she was a Black…this…this was so much more.

“I found out when I visited the Zoo,” Harry explained, after the Runespoor became quiet after he hissed back, quietly reeling over the fact there was a snake speaker in front of them. “I made the glass disappear so that the snake could get away, I made the glass reappear and got Dudley stuck inside the enclosure. I paid for it too.” Absently rubbing at his arm, his uncle had been beyond furious. In talking of his experience, he completely missed the look of reverence that crossed Corvus’ face.

“How would you like to brew a potion with me?” Corvus asked, “Find out more about your family? Create a family tree?”

“Really? A potion?” Harry asked, perking up, easily distracted, “You’ll let me?” he hadn’t been allowed down to the potions lab that Corvus had in the Manor. Due to his healing hands, and the fact he’d need to stand for long periods of time but he’d read a lot of information about them. How to properly prepare them, the correct procedure for ‘dicing’ cutting, slicing and all prepared measures one took while dealing with the ingredients.

“You’ll help,” Corvus amended, he wasn’t going to let Harry prepare a Mastery level potion while still recovering…or before actually brewing a basic potion. Although, if he was anything like Fleamont Potter, he’d find himself quite good and enjoying the process of brewing. Fleamont had actually created the Sleekeazy potion, ironic really, since it didn’t work that well on the Potter’s ‘bird best’ hair they all seem to inherit. To an extent, Harry hadn’t used it yet. His hair was getting longer due to the potions he was taking, due to his health being better, it was no surprise. Harry didn’t seem to have any desire to have it cut. As Lord of the Potter estate (soon to be) well, perhaps it was best he grew it in, most Lords had long hair, it was just a common thing they did when they reached a certain age.

Harry didn’t seem to mind, he just nodded eagerly, every branch of magic was fascinating to him. He had no particular favourites, but he did have a few he didn’t like the sound of. Divination and Arithmancy were two so far that he had no desire to immerse himself in. Although, he did learn a bit more about Runes than anything else…he wanted to be able to talk to Rabastan after all.

“Very well, let’s go,” Corvus commanded softly.

“Best feed them first,” Harry commented at the sudden upstart in hissing as they turned their backs prepared to leave the hut.

Corvus coughed to hide his sudden laughter, increasingly amused, “Very well,” he sighed, calling upon the House-elves to feed the Runespoor.

“Why is there only one?” Harry asked, normally there were more than one animal, despite the Runespoor having three heads and different personalities there was only one snake. The place was big enough to house at least three or four more.

“Runespoor are native to the African country of Burkina Faso. Runespoors are commonly six to seven feet long, with orange and black stripes. Since they are very easy to spot, the Burkina Faso Ministry of Magic has made several forests Unplottable for the Runespoor's use, and to avoid sightings by non-wizards. They have ten year life span, and I’m afraid the other I had passed only five months ago, I have been meaning to get another so that they have company, but other things have taken precedence. Their eggs are extremely valuable, especially on the black market, their eggs are good in potions to stimulate mental agility.” He actually gave the proceeds to St. Mungo’s anonymously of course, had done since his sons imprisonment. He couldn’t undo what the group had done, but with every galleon St. Mungo’s got, they got closer to curing a lot of things. Perhaps one day, the cure for insanity drive by the Cruciatus Curse would be included too.

“Oh,” Harry said, nodding his understanding, so each country had its own Ministry of magic, he filed that information for later. Just like he filed away a lot of information as of late. Not that he minded, he’d rather this than sitting in his cupboard, locked away, waiting for high school to start. Which is exactly where he would be if he didn’t have magic.

“They are also the only snake to produce eggs by laying out of their mouths,” Corvus added, knowing Harry liked titbits of information like that.

“Awesome!” Harry said in amazement.

“Indeed,” Corvus replied, Harry seemed to really like animals, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d seen him immersed in a book for magical creatures. Harry had free reign on his library as long as he was reading the books that Corvus had suggested first. The list he had was endless, not that he was overwhelming Harry, just giving suggestions when he saw he was finished with the book he’d recommended before.

They strolled leisurely towards the manor, in no hurry to go down to the dungeons. Corvus hadn’t wished to get Harry into potions, mostly due to his ill health and the fact spending a lot of time downstairs wouldn’t get him the nutrients his skin clearly needed. Being outside in the sunshine, it was good for him. well, he was lying here, he definitely wanted to get down to the dungeons and get the lineage potion done. Unfortunately for him, it would take two days to be complete, between the potion and the spell required afterwards to get the actual results.

It would be completed in time to visit his son again, he wondered if the results he got would surprise them all.

It most definitely would.

Which reminded him, he’d need to put a piece of chocolate in his cloak pocket, just in case Harry forgets. That way he would be able to get something to ease the effects the dementors had on him. He ignored the stabbing of guilt he felt, for even contemplating letting Harry continue to visit Azkaban with hearing his parents deaths and his difficulty in the presence of the dementors.

Corvus was still slightly dazed by everything he’d just learned in the past ten minutes, it was hardly surprising that he wasn’t fully himself for a good hour afterwards. Harry Potter could be a descendant of Salazar Slytherin. Now wasn’t that mind boggling?

--------0

It took Albus Dumbledore embarrassingly two days to find out exactly where the Dursley’s had taken up residence. He had Doge staking out the property, just to keep an eye on anyone coming or going – particularly wizards in question – to find out if they could find out to whom Harry was betrothed to if they showed up. He couldn’t see the Dursley’s allowing it, since one of the stipulations Petunia had demand was that no wizard ever darken her doorstep. He had agreed quite quickly, since he’d already planned on ensuring the boy didn’t know of any wizards before he entered Hogwarts.

However, what was concerning him was the fact Doge hadn’t seen a single sign of Harry Potter in or outside, since he’d begun staking out the property. It hadn’t to begin with, after all, the boy rarely left the confines of Privet Drive except for school. Except to do chores and such, surely no matter where they were, he wouldn’t change their attitude towards the boy.

As soon as he was finished with the ICW meetings, Albus apparated to the Dursley’s residence, which belonged to Marge Dursley, from Doge’s words she was an extremely unpleasant looking and sounding woman. It was unfortunate, that he was having to do this, but he was deeply concerned. If the boy was sick or there, then that was good, but his instincts were screaming at him that there was something really wrong.

“Albus,” Doge whispered quietly, “They are currently eating breakfast, still no sign of the boy.”

Albus’ brow wrinkled deeply in concern, “Nothing?” the boy needed to eat at some point, surely he would have made an appearance at least once. Flicking out his wand, he murmured a spell under his breath, awaiting the results, which revealed all the people within the confines of the house.

“My apologies, I didn’t think of that,” Doge said, embarrassment clouding his features.

Albus waved his apology away, “Four people,” he could only hope that one of them was currently away from the property and Potter was inside.

“They’re eating breakfast, the boy isn’t here,” Doge informed Dumbledore, blue eyes squinting at the people sat at the table. Two morbidly obese Muggles that look terribly alike, another obese boy who was almost the same size as the other two, and of course the tall thin woman he knew to be Petunia Dursley, sweet Lily’s sour sister.

“Could he have gone out?” Dumbledore asked, blue eyes beginning to darken, what if his ‘betrothed’ had taken him in? What if he was no longer at the Dursley’s and didn’t consider the place home? It would mean all the necessary measures he’d taken were destroyed. No, he had spent a decade on this, he refused to let all his measures be for naught.

“Believe me, I haven’t seen him once since I began watching over the property,” Doge said vehemently.

Dumbledore believed him, if anything Doge was a perfect watch dog, when he asked for anything, his good friend would be there to do it. he’d never once declined to do anything he wished, and he had been keeping a distant eye on the boy since he was placed at the Dursley’s mostly keeping an eye out for any visitors of their kind.

“I’ll take it from here,” Dumbledore informed him, “You can head home,”

“Albus…you never did explain what was going on,” Doge said, concern lacing his voice, “If there is anything else I can do…” he trailed off.

“I know, thank you, my good friend, I appreciate all you’ve done,” Dumbledore said, gratitude in his voice but not in his heart.

Doge flushed, “It’s nothing,” he said, bashfully.

“Go home and get some rest, we have that Wizengamot meeting tomorrow,” Dumbledore suggested, patting Doge absently, so easily distracted. He probably wouldn’t realize he hadn’t gotten his answers until later today and by then it wouldn’t matter.

“I will,” Doge agreed, without more ado, he apparated away from the Dursley’s residence and returned home, looking forward to the comfort of his own bed instead of staying at the Dursley’s keeping watch from a distance.

Dumbledore straightened up, swiftly making his way towards the door, which wasn’t a simple trek. This place was open, spacious and quite large. With quite a few outhouses, where he could hear animals, dogs mostly, making noises as he passed them. He couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to make the Dursley’s move in with the odious woman. More importantly, wanted to know why the boy wasn’t with them.

After five minutes of avoiding dug holes in the grass, he eventually made it to the door and rang the doorbell a single time. Waiting impatiently for an answer, praying to Merlin that there was an answer he’d like from the woman. That Potter was staying with a new friend he’d made or some such thing. He definitely didn’t want to hear that the boy had been taken in by a wizard. Hoping against hope that he simply didn’t know about the Betrothed yet, he knew it was unlikely, the boy had to have signed the contract, but he was holding out hope that he had signed it without realizing what it was.

Worst come to the worst he cold only pray that the wizard to whom he was contracted could be easily manipulated into breaking the contract. He would get things back to the way they were, even if it meant killing someone, or rather arranging it to be done. The boy was going to be in his control again if it was the last thing he did.

“Yes?” came a grating woman’s voice, knocking Albus out of his stupor. “We aren’t interested in buying anything!”

“Oh, my apologies, I’m here to speak to Petunia Dursley ma’am,” Albus said pleasantly, smiling politely at the woman, hiding his utter disgust.

“And who are you?” Marge asked, suspicion lacing her voice, eyes narrowing in on the old man.

“My name is Albus Dumbledore, she knows who I am, could you let her know I am here?” Albus said, pleasantness coating his voice, as he used magic to make her more agreeable to his demands. He didn’t want to have to break into the property in order to demand answers from Petunia.

“Of course!” Marge said, a smile of her own crossing her features, her eyes slightly glazed at the use of magic.

“Thank you,” Albus said, beaming in happiness, as if nothing pleased him more.

“Please, come in,” Marge said, not even realizing she was being utterly out of character and she wouldn’t even once the magic wore off.

“Oh, no, I wouldn’t like to intrude,” Albus said, dimming the effects of the magic slightly, “I only wish to speak to her for a moment,” he informed Marge hiding his annoyance.

Marge opened her mouth to insist, before she shook her head, and grunted before making her way back inside. The loud thumping of every step she took heard without even requiring enhanced hearing.

The smashing of glass was head also, before Petunia Dursley was suddenly at the door, closing it behind her, “YOU!” she screeched at the top of her lungs, “You swore I wouldn’t have to see you or any of you freaks when I took the boy in!” she looked around her, anxiety bubbling within her.

“Where is Harry Potter?” Dumbledore demanded, without pretence, his annoyance unhidden.

Petunia swallowed and stepped back, as if suddenly reminded this was a wizard, a powerful wizard, “I don’t know,” she replied sounding like a small child.

Dumbledore’s eyes darkened, “What do you mean you don’t know?” Dumbledore almost boomed out in anger.

“He left,” Petunia squeaked out, “Took his things, and left, we haven’t seen him since.” And that was the gods honest truth.

“When?” Dumbledore demanded, Merlin be damned, he couldn’t believe this was happening.

Petunia blurted out the answer, clutching the door handle, wishing to be as far away from Dumbledore as possible.

“And you didn’t think to inform me?” Dumbledore retorted.

“I never wanted the freak! He belongs in that freakish world, now just leave us alone!” Petunia found her backbone. Despite everything that had happened, she refused to let the world get her down. Not completely anyway. Unfortunately, her life couldn’t get any worse as it stood. Not only was her husband actually being charged with attempted assault of a police officer, he was being charged with embezzlement, and he’d lost his job, the money they had left from the house – most going towards the debt they still denied – was being given to a lawyer to help him get out of the charges and to find out what happened with the debt they were supposedly incurred. Marge was currently letting them live here free of charge, and had promised to pay for Dursley’s tuition next year. Private schools were expensive, something she and her husband could no longer afford.

“Remember your last, Petunia,” Dumbledore warned, relishing in her paling before he apparated, he was going to get nothing from her here.

-----------0

Four days later

“Are you ready to go?” Corvus asked, portkey in hand, already absently making sure the chocolate was in his pocket. Excitement thrumming through him, he couldn’t wait to inform his son of his latest find. Ever since he had met Harry – he had been asked to call him thusly after all – he was constantly experiencing influxes of emotions. A lot of anger to begin with, but nowadays it was excitement and happiness. It had been such a long time since he felt anything other than the dreaded monotony of every day life, a decade to be exact.

“Yeah, I have everything,” Harry said, quickly jogging towards Corvus, Corvus might not actually say anything but Harry knew he was excited.

He knew Corvus loved his sons, regardless of what they had done. Harry loved that, it meant that no matter what happened Corvus wasn’t going to heap demands and expectations upon him. He might not be Corvus’ sons, but Harry really liked Corvus and he was…the only father figure he’d ever known. He couldn’t help but get attached, despite his misgivings and fears. He was always calm, patient and taught him everything he’d need to know in order to fit in. He constantly bought him gifts and things he’d need ‘essentials’ he’d call them. The Dursley’s had never done that, so, yes, he’d gotten attached. He wouldn’t say he loved Corvus, Harry didn’t really understand what love meant but he cared.

“Then let’s go,” Corvus said, placing his hand upon Harry’s shoulder, the second hand wrapped around his middle, making sure to keep a good grip of Harry. He had learned how to keep a hold of him, so that he didn’t fall upon their appearance at Azkaban prison. So far, nothing had changed in that respect, he still ended up unconscious for a brief moment. “Do you want me to take the hot chocolate?” Harry had a flagon of hot chocolate with marshmallows in his hand.

Harry shook his head, he felt slightly uncomfortable being crowded by Corvus when they used the Portkey. Nobody usually touched him, the only time it happened was when someone hurt him. Uncomfortable it may be, but part of Harry relaxed into the touch. It was warm and safe, he knew Corvus would never hurt him. Harry swallowed thickly, almost close to tears, safe. Was this what it was like to have a hug from a parent? Was this what Dudley felt every time he was hugged? If so why did he complain so much? Why did he move away or protest? The tugging of his naval distracted him.

Corvus immediately tightened his hold a little, unaware of the revelation going through his young charge. “Harry?” he said quietly, slightly surprised he was still upright. “How are you feeling?” not releasing him just yet. Not worried about the flagon, after all, it was spelled non-spill able.

“I’m fine,” Harry replied, almost whining when the warmth of Corvus left him as he let him go. Shaking off whatever the hell that was, Harry handed over the box of things for Rabastan. A small part of him just wanted to freeze that moment and just relish in it.

Harry was so touch starved he didn’t even understand it.

“Good morning,” Corvus said politely to the guards, his good mood showing through, as he waited impatiently for everything to be scanned. He wanted to tell his son everything that had happened in the past week. It had become increasingly clear, Harry saw nothing wrong with his gift, and did not see it as anything…embarrassing or shameful. Why would he? He knew nothing about the magical world. Corvus couldn’t find it in himself to reveal just how reviled people would be if they found out he had such a wonderful gift. At least not yet, he would need to tell Harry before he went off to Hogwarts. For now though, he’d let Harry remain ignorant of the fear and prejudice that followed such a gift. And to him it was a gift, a beautiful gift, one he and many others would die for.

“Clear,” the guard stated, as it always was, handing the box back over to the young boy, happy to see that he wasn’t so badly affected today. “Morning,” they weren’t used to a cheerful Corvus and that made them very wary indeed.

The second guard opened the door, letting Harry and Corvus in, Corvus grabbed the box since Harry seemed to have forgotten about it.

“Hi!” Harry said, grinning mischievously remembering the photos of a baby Rabastan in the bath that Corvus had shown him. “Here, I made it for you myself,” handing over the flagon of Hot Chocolate, “It has a nutrition potion in it, but it won’t spoil it, promise!” he knew because he had to take dozens of the damn things.

As always Rabastan just looked bemused whenever he had to interact with Harry. Rabastan just didn’t know what to make of the boy, he wasn’t what he thought he’d be. He was in Azkaban prison for torturing people, yet Harry didn’t seem to care about that the slightest. This had all just been a contract of mutual beneficial for both of them. Yet Harry went out of his way to talk to him, care for him, this hot chocolate was another example.

His father seemed to get too much enjoyment out of it, it was almost obscene.

“Thank you,” Rabastan said, it was genuine and heartfelt, he was grateful, he felt more himself these days than he ever had. The warmth of the flagon soaked into his hands as he sipped the hot chocolate, which he realized had marshmallows in it. His lips twitched, reminded of his childhood. It was definitely better than the crap they gave him before visits here.

“One of the Granian horses have given birth, she had three babies!” Harry said, excitement obvious, “I helped, they’re really pretty, Corvus said I could name them!”

“Did he now?” Rabastan said, slightly surprised.

“He named his owl, Hedwig, I believe he will come up with appropriate names for them,” Corvus said wryly. He would definitely say something if he didn’t approve of any of them.

“I will,” Harry promised, shovelling the box that Corvus had placed on the table nearer Rabastan. He always ate a lot of chocolate when he visited, so he must always run out during the course of the week. Either that or he just ate it to make himself feel better while they were here.

“I also let him visit Jor,” Corvus explained. The second Runespoor had been called Midgard, for Jormungand, the sea serpent from mythology. Midgard was just as self-explanatory.

“Which is?” Rabastan frowned, he couldn’t remember any conversations about any animal called ‘Jor’ for the life of him.

That sobered Corvus a little, “The Runespoor,”

“You like snakes?” Rabastan queried, wondering when he’d stop being surprised by the boy.

“They’re funny,” Harry said, he’d spent quite a while with them in the past few days, only with Corvus’ supervision though.

“Funny?” Rabastan echoed, arching a brow, snakes could be termed many things but not funny.

“Yeah, specially the Runespoor, they’re all different did you know? One of them is really lazy and one of them is real smart, the other is moody.” Harry explained, “The moody one constantly threatens to bite the middle ones head off,”

Corvus just watched realisation creeping onto his sons face, had he been just as stunned when he realised Harry could talk to snakes as well?

“Our Harry is a Parselmouth,” Corvus said smugly, “Isn’t it a shame that this contract couldn’t be seen through?”

Rabastan gaped for a good few minutes, stunned beyond belief.

Corvus coughed to hide his laughter, but his son could easily tell.

Rabastan groaned, “Your eyes,” he grumbled to himself, “Of course,” that’s what he’d been seeing. That’s what had been bothering him.

“Eyes?” Corvus queried, wondering at his sons change of topic.

“Salazar Slytherins portrait,” Rabastan explained shaking his head, “Your eyes are the spitting image,” it’s what had been annoying him for so long.

“I’m related to him,” Harry said, nodding eagerly, he was related to one of the founders of Hogwarts. It was different, so far people had said he looked like his father with his mothers eyes, but it was nice for once, not to be compared to them so much.

“So was the Dark Lord,” Rabastan stated, in fact the Dark Lord thought he was the last of the Slytherin line, evidently he had been wrong. He almost snorted, James Potter would have been beyond horrified if he had known he was related to Salazar Slytherin. He hated all things remotely Slytherin, although maybe that was why. “Might be how you survived that night,”

“I very much doubt it,” Corvus cautioned Rabastan, “James Potter was very much related to Salazar Slytherin as well.”

“But not the last of the line, along with him,” Rabastan pointed out the ‘him’ spoken so reverently it could only be the Dark Lord.

“What does that mean?” Harry asked curiously, not perturbed by the fact they were talking about his parents. Rabastan brought it up every time he visited. When asked, Corvus said it was Rabastan’s way of trying to prevent himself or Harry getting to close. Sometimes Rabastan was even short with him, it was self-preservation and anger at his situation. The belief he was never getting out of Azkaban weighed heavily upon him. In Azkaban darker emotions were easily found but happier emotions were all but obsolete. He’d tried to prevent Corvus returning to Azkaban at all, knowing his fathers single visit weighed heavily upon him.

“Some lines…took precautions to prevent their heirs committing patricide to take over the family, some lines went as far as to prevent their descendants from murdering their own blood.” Corvus explained easily, making sure that Harry could understand what Rabastan was getting at.

“Oh,” Harry murmured giving a slow nod, “I’ve been reading about Ancient Runes, I can see why you like it! Although there’s a few that I’m confused about.”

And just like that, Rabastan begun to help Harry with his Ancient Runes, teaching him what he knew, which was easy enough since it was just beginner runes. Something Rabastan could easily do in his sleep. Each moment spent with Harry, Rabastan fought hard to stop himself liking the boy, and failing miserably, he was just so utterly enchanting that it was impossible to dislike him. perhaps his father had been correct, it was a shame that the contract couldn’t go anywhere. Not with him stuck in here. As far as husbands go, Harry seemed like the perfect deal, smart, dedicated, thoughtful, good breeding, he was from the Slytherin line after all.

He had no idea what the future held in store for him. Because being in Harry Potter’s life…well, let’s just say some things were going to heighten his feelings before Rabastan was ready.

All the feels.

 

----------0

There we go! and they finally found out about one of his abilities! Will we see more secrets spilled with another chapter with Harry still at Lestrange manor? Perhaps his metamorphamagus abilities? (just a little not fully like his hair etc..), what else would you like to see happen between Corvus/Harry or Rabastan/Corvus before he attends Hogwarts? will Dumbledore declare Harry missing in hopes of his betrothed coming forward? Or will he consider it too risky? instead beginning his manipulations upon Harry beginning Hogwarts? Will Harry and Corvus uncover a way for Rabastan and Rodolphus to have a trial soon or will it happen in a few years? Will Corvus reveal all to Severus with Millicent there to back him up or will he got to Hogwarts after getting reports of how Severus is treating Harry? Who will Harry befriend before Hogwarts? Theo, Blaise? OC who's distantly related to the Lestranges? the Greengrasses? will Corvus reveal Harry's abilities to them? and warn them that Harry's off limits to their offspring's taunting's or will that happen only after he's put up with it for a week or so? How long will it be before Dumbledore finds out who exactly Harry's betrothed to or will he remain ignorant to it until Harry's already married? And what is in store next for the Dursleys will Marge find herself on the shit list and them all near enough homeless...the question is how...someone setting fire to the property? condemning it? sooo many ways for it to go! R&R please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 11

August twenty-fifth did not start of well for either Harry or Corvus, although it infuriated Corvus far more than Harry. Due to the fact that Harry trusted Corvus to keep him safe, and acknowledge that between the goblins and the wizard himself, if they said there was nothing Dumbledore could do he would believe it. Plus, he had read everything he could get his hands on, from information about magical custodians to the Betrothal contracts. Even if Dumbledore did try to contest it, it wouldn’t matter, Harry had an ace up his sleeve that would see Dumbledore completely ruined.

Added to the fact a lot of power Dumbledore used to have was no longer at his disposal. It wouldn’t be easy gathering the backing he would need to change anything.

As normal, Corvus reminded Harry to take his potions, watched him consume them, breakfast was brought through and they ate at a calm sedate pace neither in any rush. Harry would find it difficult to finish it, due to the fact a little more was added to his plate. Once it was cleared away, Corvus was read the Daily Prophet, which was where their breakfast differed this day.

Blazoned across the front was ‘Harry Potter: Boy-Who-Lived – Missing’

Corvus’ ire was immediately roused, how dare he? This was his play? Trying to get him to come forward to prove Harry wasn’t missing? Trying to find out who his Betrothed and new magical guardian was? Did Dumbledore seriously expect something like this to work? It was time to get his lawyer to intervene.

“It looks like Dumbledore has made a play,” Corvus said, his voice deceptively calm. “Why don’t you read the newspaper, I have someone I need to call.” Handing over the newspaper, standing up he gave Harry a reassuring nod before he exited the dining room, heading straight for his office to call upon his lawyers services.

“Okay,” Harry agreed, reading through the information on the front page, before going to the full blown article. He stared in disbelief as he read it, half of it was utter bullshit. Well, all of it was bullshit, but the rest…was completely made up! Not being there for his home visit? Always looked forward to it? What the actual fuck?

Hearing footsteps, Harry’s head snapped up, it was only Corvus returning, “This says Dumbledore visited me once a month each month…that I look forward to his visits…what the actual fuck is he trying to do?”

“Language,” Corvus stated firmly, “Never let anyone have you resorting to foul language like a common hooligan. It just confirms what everyone knows, that they’ve got to you, made you angry.”

Harry flushed his eyes staring at the table, “Sorry,” he said, ashamed of himself.

“It’s fine, I can understand your anger, but never let anyone realize they’re getting to you,” Corvus lowered his voice to a soothing lilt, not wishing Harry to think he was angry or disappointed in him. He didn’t know better after all, and Corvus was there to teach him, and he would continue to do so.

“He’s lying! How can I just let him away with it?” Harry pointed out, trying to keep his voice even, failing only a little.

Corvus nodded in approval, much better, he was doing good for an eleven-year-old. “There is one thing you must learn about the newspapers. They accept lies, they stretch the truth just to publish information sometimes to the point of incredulity. Now, my lawyer is going to retrieve the information required to find out who did the actual interview and who the interviewee was.”

“But isn’t that against the law?” Harry asked, a frown marring his features. “Writing my name in the newspaper?”

“It is, most people elect to sue the papers for such kitschy displays, so that they’re forced to withdraw their words, and lose a great deal of profit as well. Others don’t have the means or the knowhow to prevent someone just writing lies about them and let it continue.” Corvus explained easily enough.

“Did they write about me after my parents died?” Harry asked, a vindictive gleam in his green eyes.

“Indeed they did,” Corvus felt a vindictive sort of glee and fascination seeing the look on Harry’s face. Oh, he was going to be spectacular when he grew into his power. “Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done. Dumbledore himself made the announcements over the Wizarding wireless, and had the Daily prophet write the article. He made a very large spectacle about it, but refused to answer anyone’s question regarding where it is you had been placed exactly.”

Harry pressed his lips together, angry that the old man had used him as a tool. Making something out of nothing, made him seem like a miracle instead of finding out what really happened. Dumbledore was the reason that everyone knew who he was? Knew everything about him before he had? “Do I look that much like my dad that everyone recognizes me?”

Corvus blinked, “You do not know what your parents look like?” why hadn’t he thought of that before? Truthfully? He didn’t much care about James and Lily Potter.

Harry shook his head, “No,”

“Petunia doesn’t have a single family photo up that includes her sister?” Corvus found himself yet again surprised. They had not only squashed Harry’s belief in himself but his actual self? Not allowing him to even know what his parents look like?

“I don’t think Petunia has a single photo of the family, I’ve never seen a picture of my grandparents, she never visits any graves, but she hated them for being glad to have a witch in the family when all she saw was a ‘freak’,” Harry said subdued. “Until then she’d never spoken about my grandparents or my mum except to tell me they died in a car accident.”

Corvus’ nostrils flared in anger, a car crash? He didn’t care for either James or Lily Potter but to say they died in such a pathetic muggle way? It was distasteful, disgusting really, not even he would have gone as far as to say something like that to a boy who had lost his parents young and been orphaned. Especially not when he had gotten on really well with Harry’s grandmother. “I will show you some pictures, but later, right now we are about to be visited by my lawyer,” a ding indicated that someone had just used the Floo to get through the network.

He didn’t have much, considering James and Lily graduated the same year as his son, he’d find their photos in the year books. He had personal photos of Dorea, maybe a few with Dorea and Charles, it was the best he could offer him at the moment. He didn’t know anyone else who could procure photos of the Potters’, if they’d ever taken any that is. After all they’d been on the run, hiding, trying to protect their son. He would never understand why they’d chosen Godric’s Hollow and a secret keeper. He should have gone to Potter manor, it would have given him more security, and well…a greater chance to escape if anyone came knocking.

“Lord Lestrange,” Abbott said, nodding deferentially. His gaze kept going back to Harry Potter – and it was rather obvious who he was thank you – and refraining from gaping in shock.

“You have what I asked for?” Corvus asked, sitting up straighter already becoming ‘Lord Lestrange’ one that most people only ever got to see. Not many got to see ‘Just Corvus’ except those who held in very high regard. He gestured for him to come closer.

Antonio Abbott was one of the best lawyers – when it comes to humans anyway – expensive but worth every penny. Corvus kept him on a retainer, with him constantly trying to get his sons a trial or out of prison he needed someone on hand and Antonio was that man.

“Yes, it was an interview with Elphias Doge at three thirty-two yesterday afternoon.” Antonio Abbott revealed, moving forward now that he had permission. “Here is everything I know about him, it’s just the basics, do you wish for me to investigate further or press charges?” knowing Lord Lestrange wouldn’t waste either of their time for frivolous talk. He placed the folder, along with a recent picture of the man in question on the front, he had on his Wizengamot robes which made him look awful.

“That…that is Doge?” Harry asked, a nauseous look upon his face.

“Harry?” Corvus asked cautiously, “Do you need a basin?” he looked ready to be sick, that was with an anti-nausea potion, he took every big meal he had so he wasn’t sick.

“I’ll be fine,” Harry swallowed thickly, still looking ready to be sick.

Corvus evidently didn’t believe him, but he had to trust Harry knew his own body well enough, “How do you know this man?” Corvus got to the next matter. Turning the picture so Harry could properly examine him. harry had insisted he hadn’t met anyone from the magical world, except Figg, but Corvus definitely did not consider a squib magical. This was evidently was false, to what extent, Corvus wanted to know and he wasn’t going to give up.

“I…I thought he lived nearby, I’ve seen him a dozen times, I met him only once, but my aunt was furious when he spoke to me,” Harry said, “I just…he knew this whole entire time.” Swallowing thickly, another let down, by a wizard his trust in the magical world breaking just a little bit more.

“This is Elphias Doge, he’s been best friends with Albus Dumbledore since childhood. They grew up together, and came to power together. They are on the wizengamot and always agree with each other’s goals.” Antonio informed Harry, still perplexed as to why he was here. And better yet, why Harry Potter was sitting across from him when all other indications suggested he was missing.

“Were on the wizengamot together,” Corvus corrected him, too concerned to be smug. “Doge was also a member of the Order of the Phoenix. The organization created to bring down the Dark Lord, primarily made up of light wizards. And yes, your parents were part of it, they chose to fight in the war and took on the consequences that come with it. I wonder if you’ve been watched by the Order members all this time?”

“That doesn’t sound like a bad thing, the war didn’t die down for at least a year after the Dark Lord’s defeat, not properly.” Antonio pointed out, yes he knew Corvus’ allegiance, had gotten him out of tight spots, tried to get his boys freed. He hadn’t picked sides, remaining neutral as the war raged on, both sides had their own opinions and they made sense to him, he wasn’t one for fighting unless it was in the courtroom.

“It is when Harry was abused his entire time under the Dursley’s household,” Corvus said darkly, “Are you trying to tell me a wizard of his age and experience did not see the state the child was in? Even now he hasn’t fully recovered from his years under their roof.” Admittedly he hadn’t noticed it at first, but who could blame him? ensconced in Azkaban for a meeting, he’d been too concerned about his son to really get a good look at the child. The scar and his basic looks had given him away as Harry Potter.

“What do you mean? Abuse? And he knew?” Antonio asked, his tone becoming just as deadly and dark as Corvus’ as he digested what he’d just been told.

Corvus summoned the paperwork and wordlessly handed them over to his lawyer, letting him see for himself what Harry had endured.

“Do you wish for me to press charges? If so I will happily take the case pro-bono.” Such actions sickened him to the core, and made him think for the first time that the Dark Lord might be right in his actions. Muggles were a danger to all things magical, a child abused to this extent…it wasn’t often seen. It made his stomach churn, the pain he had to have been in…how on earth had Corvus come across him.

“Not much of a case, he could insist his meeting was too brief to realize what was going on,” Corvus sneered distastefully, “But, if Harry wishes for a case to be taken to court then go ahead. It will mean that the knowledge of your abuse will become known.” He had to inform him of that.

“Don’t they have laws that would prevent it becoming common knowledge? It’s against the law to share children’s names! Especially to the press, they’re always kept secret for their safety.”

“That is entirely correct, and we can make it so they cannot discuss it outside of the courtroom…but they will know, there are fifty people within the wizengamot, a great many of them Lord’s. Then there are a dozen more that will be in the courtroom as well. Many of them you will probably begin interacting with on a daily basis when you are older if you intend to go into politics.” Corvus explained, seeing the unsure look on Harry’s face, he continued on. “I am not saying this so that you refrain from pressing charges, but rather to give you a full understanding so that you don’t come to regret it.”

“It doesn’t need to be right now,” Antonio informed Harry seriously, “You can wait, it will be easy to tell everyone that you were…ignorant of the facts until then.” the lawyer in him giving out advice whether it was strictly ethical or not. “In the meantime, I’ll gather as much information as I can on everyone involved.” Which meant Harry’s relatives, Dumbledore and of course Doge. See if he could tie anyone else to this travesty of justice.

“Dumbledore would only be caught out in a lie though, I’ve never met him, he won’t go to prison for a lie…and this Doge was the one to tell the Daily Prophet about…Dumbledore supposedly visiting me. How long would Doge get for ignoring signs of abuse if he gets any time at all?” Harry said, shrugging his shoulders helplessly, “They wont do any time…” he wouldn’t get the justice he should.

“I’m afraid you might be correct,” Antonio conceded, “I will find out all I can and advice you,” he promised.

“I hate the old fool,” Corvus hissed under his breath, he never did anything himself to get his shiny reputation smeared. He made sure others paid for his crimes, and Corvus for once, just wished, Merlin, how he wished, that he would be caught up in his own games.

“Losing the power he’s had for a decade will have to do,” Harry said, and it was sort of enough, it made him particularly vindictive.

Corvus smirked, nodding his head, “Indeed,” that was very true. He would love to have seen Dumbledore flounder when he realized his power was just flowing out of his hands.

“What about the Muggle family?” Antonio questioned, getting himself comfortable, “Is anything being done about them? They do not deserve to be free.”

“Quite frankly I want them to suffer more than prison would dole out,” Corvus retorted a bite to his voice. “It would be much more difficult to see them dead within the confines of a Muggle prison.”

“I did not just hear that,” Antonio muttered under his breath, to his amazement Harry didn’t seem to care one whit what Corvus had just said. He shouldn’t be surprised really, after all they had done to the boy.

“Doesn’t make it any less true,” Corvus stated, “But ultimately, it is up to Harry, should he desire to press charges, I will of course, adhere to his wishes.”

Harry stared at both of them suddenly looking like a deer in the headlights.

“I will do what I can for you, Mr. Potter,” Antonio swore, “For now, since there is nothing further to be done, you’ll need to excuse me.” With that he stood up, giving a nod to both of them, gesturing for Corvus to stay before he departed, he knew the way out.

“Sometimes, Harry…the law can greatly let us all down,” Corvus said quietly, a wistfulness to him. “Other times…it’s people who give us the courage to continue on. To find new and alternative ways to ensure the law works in our favour.” He was working on something that might just work in his favour, he just needed to ensure it was fool proof so that even Fudge would need to agree to the terms. Once he was sure of it, he’d give it to Antonio who will do the rest for him.

It was his job after all.

“Now, you have two girls coming to pay you a visit, do you understand the proper protocol for when you are introduced?” Corvus changed the subject completely.

“Um…yes?” Harry said, suddenly feeling like he was in the headlights again.

“Then we must go over them again until you answer with a firm, yes,” Corvus decided, his lips twitching at the groan Harry let out. Yes, he was truly coming into his own and he couldn’t have been prouder of the boy.

------0

“You didn’t tell me your young charge was Harry Potter!” hissed Lord Greengrass into Corvus’ ear, not sure how he was feeling right now. Shocked? For sure. Confused? Definitely. Reeling? Very much so, the rest were overlapping each other to the extent he was unable to think clearly over the buzzing in his ears. Thoroughly confused by Corvus that he would take in the Harry Potter, he’d ordered his daughters to have care while interacting with Corvus’ charge. Something that Corvus had never done before. He’d never mentioned a charge or a desire to have one. He assumed that Corvus had simply bowed to the desire to leave the Lestrange fortune to someone and thus taken in a distant member of the family or some such thing.

“Not here,” Corvus retorted with a bite that hadn’t been present for a while. Especially not while talking to Harry or anyone associated with him, such as his healer Millicent. He knew better than to antagonise someone who was going to be part of his life for well over a year maybe two. “Let’s take this to my office, Adam,” he informed the Greengrass Lord with imperiousness.

“Of course,” Greengrass said with deference. Despite the family name being utterly besmirched, the Lestranges and name might not be what it used to be…but the family still had a great deal of influence and in the hierarchy system of theirs, was definitely higher up in status than most others, even the Malfoy family which would come as a shock to the system to most. They were higher up on the sacred twenty-eight than any other family in the British Isles. Then again the Malfoy family had originated from France, and had quite a few half-blood’s in the family history that they didn’t like talking about. The allegiance they held in the war whether it was dark or neutral did not come into it. “Daphne watch over your sister, I shall only be a moment,”

Daphne nodded resignedly, when her father said ‘a moment’ he was gone sometimes for what felt like hours. At least today there was someone her age for her to converse with. “Good afternoon, my name is Daphne Greengrass, it’s a pleasure to meet your acquaintance,” Daphne curtsied like her mother had taught her. “This is my little sister, Astoria Greengrass,” when they married their Betrothed they’d have the title Lady in front of their name. Astoria was to be married to Draco Malfoy, while she was to marry a wizard from France, Jermain, Rene Jermain one day he’d be Lord Rene Jermain. His family was super successful and had more money than they knew what to do with. He had sent her the beautiful dress she was in right now, it was very pretty and she felt grown up.

“It’s nice to meet you, I’m Harry Potter,” Harry said, offering his hand as Corvus had instructed him, giving both a kiss on the hand in greeting. He felt very stupid doing it, but that was the way they did things. The fact neither so much as blinked at his actions helped ease him considerably. “Would you like to play exploding snap or rune dominos?” he suggested, he played with Corvus when they had a free moment. Not as often as he’d like, but he wanted to know more about Hogwarts and everything he felt more comfortable asking someone younger than Corvus.

“Rune Dominos,” Daphne said, brightening up considerably, at least this meeting wouldn’t be boring. Her father would be gone for ages, she knew that. “That way my sister can play as well.” exploding snap was really only a two person game, and got easily boring.

Corvus nodded at the three sat themselves on the table next to the fireplace and begun to spread the Rune Dominoes out. He would be just fine, the girls wouldn’t hound him for answers, it was why he’s suggested them first, them and perhaps Theodore and Blaise, both boys weren’t too spirited. “Come,” was all Corvus stated as he exited the room, letting Harry have privacy to make friends without worrying about the adults and what they thought.

“This I did not see coming this morning when I woke up,” Adam confessed, as Corvus led the way to his office. Eyeing the Lord Lestrange with a shrewd look. Wondering what he was up to and what his inevitable end game was. “What’s wrong with him?” it had not been beyond his comprehension those potions he’d seen at the table, nor how thin and ill looking he looked. He was as short as his youngest daughter, Astoria, Daphne positively towered over him. She wasn’t exactly a very tall girl to begin with.

Corvus walked over to his locked cabinet and opened it, throwing a quick, “Whiskey or Bourbon?” over his shoulder before he made his own drink, plopping a bit of ice into it. “Bourbon please,” wondering if he was going to need it, judging by the amount Corvus put in…he presumed it was a yes. He stepped up to the fireplace and sat himself down, relaxing into the warmth permeating the air.

“Here,” Corvus said, handing over the glass with more than just a finger of Bourbon, as he slid into his seat, without pause he handed over the contract to Greengrass. This information was much too important to risk accidentally being spilled or worse, deliberately if one was feeling particularly vindictive. Adam like himself was a Slytherin, so it was entire possible.

Adam’s brow rose at the sight of it, whistling under his breath, “This is how it’s to be is it?” he mused, this would allow him to converse with his immediate family regarding Harry Potter, but the magic would prevent anyone discussing it outside it. Such as if he or his daughters – or wife – tried to talk about it they’d find themselves entirely unable to do so.

“I hope you didn’t expect anything different?” Corvus replied wryly, not regrading this anyway.

“Apparently not,” Adam sighed, not that it was really a chore, and plus, his curiosity was getting the better of him. that and it wouldn’t be the first time he’d signed one of these. Their lot were paranoid, and kept their secrets close to their chest, and within certain circles. The fact Corvus was confiding in him didn’t surprise him. Lestrange, Greengrass, Zabini, Malfoy and Black had been their circle, regretfully the Black family was all but gone. At least the main line would be, with Sirius Black the only male heir left, may Orion rest in peace, with him in Azkaban, it was unlikely that he’d have an heir.

Greengrass signed the document, magic flaring holding them to their word. His daughters would have felt it as well, but he would need to explain fully when they returned home. Gulping some of his drink, grimacing at the burn, he watched Corvus intently. He looked…younger, freer than he’d seen him in a long time. “You look…happy old friend,” Adam said, genuinely happy for him. Even if he was undeniably curious about Harry Potter, how this happiness occurred and what was wrong with the young Potter.

“I am,” Corvus revealed, sincerely, eyes gleaming with triumph.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with Dumbledore being kicked of the ICW? He set a meeting up and tried to get himself integrated back into it.” Adam questioned, leaning back in the chair. For two days, then proceeded to waste their time trying to get back on without the power to back him up.

Corvus smirked, a vindictive look on his face, “You know how Dumbledore came about his power?”

Arching a brow, Adam frowned, “It’s been a decade,” he pointed out. “If rumour is to be believed, the ICW wanted Dumbledore since he defeated Grindelwald and he gave in.”

“That’s what he’d like you to believe,” Corvus snorted derisively, people believed anything they heard. “Dumbledore got the Potter seats, which enabled him to gather enough power to become the chief warlock and incidentally the ICW position.”

“The Potter seats wouldn’t give him the power he requires…”Adam pointed out perplexed.

“You forget that Harry Potter’s grandmother was Dorea Black-Potter, when Sirius Black, who is incidentally Harry’s godfather, was arrested, they became Harry’s be default as he is next in line to claim them. They’re still listed under the Potter seats, because Harry is at the end of the day a Potter.” He just wished that Harry could and would marry Rab and become a Potter-Lestrange. It had surprised him when he realized there were Black seats in amongst the Potter ones.

“That, that explains it,” Adam agreed, closing his eyes, of course, between the Potter and Black seats, it was little wonder Dumbledore had climbed the ladder with considerable ease. “Dorea would have ensured she had her own, and that the remained within the family too.” Dorea was a firecracker, Narcissa, Andromeda and Bellatrix had set the family back, Dorea would have been disappointed really. They had no jobs, raised kids, did nothing else, except Bellatrix, of course, she didn’t have any kids. Dorea wanted to advance things for witches in the magical world, make it so they could be seen having jobs, careers and kids. Which Dorea did do, Charles had been happy to allow it. Not just happy, they’d been very much in love. Dorea had broken her Betrothal contract, insisting she wasn’t going to marry someone to have an heir with only for them to be able to ‘fuck around’ and her stuck in a loveless marriage. Her exact words to be specific.

“I think Harry will end up taking after Dorea,” Corvus revealed, the fact he’d been looking up on laws, even if it was only Muggle ones…it spoke of a smart mind. Nobody could deny that Dorea was smart, hell, Harry might actually end up becoming a lawyer like his grandmother. He’d certainly got him digging into information he certainly wouldn’t have thought to look into.

“You’re calling him by his given name,” Adam stated, shaking his head, “What exactly happened?” how on earth had Corvus met Harry Potter? None of this made sense, nobody had seen or heard from Harry Potter in ten years. He rather hoped Corvus was in a sharing mood. He truly wanted to know.

“I was called by the goblins to Gringotts, for a meeting with my son, Rabastan,” Corvus revealed, pensively, he hadn’t thought much of the meeting, just excited to actually see his son even for only the duration of the meeting. He’d kept his composure when he caught sight of the boy for the first time. Then his mind exploded at Harry’s suggestion, he’d been prepared to go to any lengths to see it come to fruition. “They didn’t reveal anything to me, I went to the meeting blind, and to my utter surprise…Harry wished to see through the Betrothal contract myself and Dorea drew up when we were much younger before either of us had kids.”

Adam choked on the drink he’d just taken a sip off, “Betrothal?” gaping at Corvus stunned by what he’d just heard. “Why?” it made absolutely no sense. Swallowing thickly a few times, trying to regain his regal composure.

“One of the rumours about Harry was true, he was living amongst Muggles. His aunt and uncle from his mother’s side…who despised magic and Harry himself. As Harry so eloquently put it, they despised him and when Muggles fear something they lash out.” Corvus said darkly, he had asked Harry about Marge Dursley when he realized she might not get sick of the family and have them put out on the street any time soon. What he learned didn’t endear him to her, she was just as bad if not worse than her brother. Using animals to attack innocent boys, it was a miracle Harry wasn’t fearful of animals and retained his love for them. Although he didn’t know how Harry would react to dogs.

“You’re not suggesting…” Adam begun, anger brewing within him at the thought.

“Not suggesting, stating outright, you can see for yourself that he isn’t quite…healthy,” Corvus interrupted him, not wishing for any contradictions.

“How bad is the damage?” Adam asked, dreading it quite frankly. His youngest daughter looked healthier than the boy who was due to start Hogwarts this year, he was the same age as his daughter. In fact, he remembered an announcement being whispered in the corners of pubs, that Lily Potter had given birth to a son, round about the same time Alice Longbottom gave birth to a son.

“If he hadn’t received aid from the healers he would have died within the next few years,” Corvus revealed bitterly, “He was crafty enough to get help for himself, and get out of behind Dumbledore whom I do not believe he cares very much for.” not hiding his smug satisfaction here. He kept remarkably impassive while discussing Dumbledore. Surprisingly, he had no desire to colour Harry’s judgement. Dumbledore was doing well enough to antagonise Harry on his own anyway. Plus, he would need to inform him of everything Dumbledore might do or use to manipulate him. It was going to be quite the conversation he’d be having with Harry before he returned to Hogwarts. Between Dumbledore, the world’s expectations and his abilities.

“He knows about Dumbledore then?” Adam said giving a nod, not truly surprised.

“Not much, but I will have to tell him before he goes to Hogwarts,” Corvus told him.

“He’s going to Hogwarts? Is he anywhere near healthy enough for such a thing?” Adam rasped out, this time he visibly displayed his surprise.

“That is for Millicent to reveal,” Corvus answered honestly, sipping the last of his drink. “Thank you for allowing the girls to visit,” Adam was a few years older than his eldest son, his father had been good friends until he passed away from the Dragon Pox quite quickly.

“He looked as though he was born and bred within the magical world,” Adam reassured Corvus.

“Not as quite as comfortable as he made out,” Corvus shook his head, he knew Harry’s tells, he had been watching him closely for weeks now. “I don’t believe he’s had a single friend, so I’m hoping to get him more comfortable and independent before he goes to Hogwarts. I’m still waiting to hear back from Zabini and Nott,” calling them by their last names out of habits left over from school.

“Mmm, they’re definitely better picks than the Weasley’s or worse the Browns,” Greengrass shuddered, the mere thought of them was enough to make him shiver.

“I don’t know, I believe that the elder Weasley’s might just become self-aware enough to see Dumbledore for what he truly is.” Corvus said shrewdly, at least Bill Weasley, he was too smart to be drawn into the crap Dumbledore spews surely? It mattered little either way, it wasn’t as if he would associate with a blood traitor. Nobody in the pureblood world that cared for status interacted with the Weasley’s. If they did, they’d automatically lose that status, its why the children of the Weasley’s found it difficult to have decent friends, the best they got was half-blood’s or Muggle-born idiots to befriend. Although they were determined to become better than their father, that he approved off. A Dragon Handler and curse breaker, they made decent money and it didn’t escape his notice that they had made their escape from the UK. Away from potential war? Their name or their mother? Considering all they’d heard about Molly Weasley…he was tempted to believe it was the mother.

“Chance would be a fine thing,” Greengrass snorted derisively. “So, who else are you going to subtly warn to keep Harry safe? And to ensure he is not targeted at Hogwarts” yes, he was beginning to realize what was happening and why.

Corvus just smirked, “Everyone,” he was going to make sure that Harry wasn’t bothered by anyone.

“You believe he will end up in Slytherin?” Greengrass mused.

“Possible,” was all Corvus had to say on the matter. Quite honestly, Harry could go either way, he suspected once gained Harry’s loyalty would be for good unless something happened to break it. Harry was an avid reader and had a thirst for knowledge, he was smart, cunning and looked out for himself and he was bold and brave enough to ask for the Betrothal of his son despite knowing his past.

 

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One more chapter before Hogwarts starts up! Before we know just where Harry gets placed and how he will navigate Dumbledore and the politics within Slytherin! Would you like to see snippets of Corvus trying to free his son, wizengamot meetings along with everything else that's happening or would you like to see it just written in letters? Or will Corvus come up with a different means of communication? two-way books? mirrors? Or will he simply Floo every night? Will we see Severus in the next chapter aware of Harry and his position or will it be two chapters and a very irate Corvus? With Harry getting to see what its like having someone who truly cares? Oh, I meant to include Harry's family tree damn oh well will harry be related to Slytherin twice over? both mother and father? who else will he be related to? R&R please

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 12

“Put the book down and eat your breakfast, Millicent is coming today,” Corvus informed the boy as he took his seat, placing the napkin on his lap as he situated himself properly. He did not keep people waiting, well, sometimes when he was pissed off and they were beneath him. He had never kept Millicent waiting, she was important to Harry’s health, and it was her time was valuable and important. Hence he’d never think to keep her waiting, let alone do it, unless the situation called for.

Harry immediately did as asked, not out of fear but respect. This was Corvus’ home, and despite the fact he could have made millions of rules…he hadn’t. Harry had quite frankly loved living here, it was…peaceful and he was so, so happy. Plus, food, a real bed, all the books he wanted to read, potions who the hell would argue that this place could be bad? He was very nervous though, and it showed.

“You can read your book afterwards,” Corvus pointed out, slightly surprised by Harry’s nerves. He was chewing his lip, just the once mind as if he had remembered himself. “What is wrong?” he knew the boy would answer, he always was truthful with him and that had helped cement their bond.

“I’m worried about the results,” Harry informed him, as they ate their breakfast with a little more speed than usual due to Millicent’s impending visit.

“In case you don’t get to go to Hogwarts or because you may?” Corvus questioned astutely. He knew how comfortable Harry had become here, and he might not wish to leave just yet. He’d just settled in, gotten comfortable, another sudden upheaval might not be something he wishes whether consciously or not.

“Both?” Harry said, thankfully the anti-nausea potion stopped his stomach squirming as he thought on it further.

“Yes, it’s an exhilarating feeling getting to go to Hogwarts but daunting at the same time as it is different from all you know. Nearly everyone goes through these feelings, Harry, don’t worry about it quite so much. No matter what she says, it wont change the outcome.” Corvus said, “Even my sons couldn’t eat their breakfast before the train ride to Hogwarts. They missed home too.” And to his immense satisfaction, Harry did think of Lestrange Manor as his home.

Harry relaxed when he realized his feelings were normal, but he thought Corvus would always do that. Make him realize his feelings were normal, that there was nothing strange about how he felt. At the end of the day, he was allowed to feel how he felt and screw anyone else who stated otherwise. Not exactly how Corvus had expressed it of course, but it was the gist of it. “Are we going to see Rabastan today?”

“Of course,” Corvus answered, “Are you feeling up to it?”

“Yeah, I made some home made cookies with a nutrition potion in them, hopefully it will help,” Harry said, as he ate his breakfast. He wouldn’t be able to make anything home made after this, if he went to Hogwarts, he couldn’t just use the kitchen after all. Tomorrow, Sunday, he might be on his way to school. Depending on what Millicent said, and Harry honestly didn’t know what he wanted the outcome to be.

“That is what you were doing in the kitchen?” Corvus’ eyebrows rose in surprise. He’d assumed the boy was just wanting to eat more, he’d guided to the boy into the kitchen then left. Admonishing him that it was perfectly alright to call upon the house- elves for anything he needed that they were happy. Assuming his reticence was coming from the fact he felt it was too close to home. Apparently he had been wrong. “How often have you used the kitchen?” the urge to declare it a witches job was strong, he could hear Dorea tearing him a new one. Making him internally cringe, yes, he’d become a bit more of a traditionalist since his marriage and old age. Dorea would just have to forgive his thoughts. If Harry wanted to make cookies for Rabastan who was he to stop him? His son was becoming fast fond of Harry, and Merlin help him, Rabastan didn’t know what to do with it. Part of Rabastan probably wanted to hate him for what happened to the Dark Lord, but not enough that overwhelms him even in Azkaban. Getting to know Harry on his own, as his own man, Rabastan liked him. It wasn’t hard to like Harry, he was thoughtful and kind, and Rabastan hadn’t had much of that in his life except for family. Him and Rod specifically and a few friends.

“A few times, mostly to make hot chocolate,” Harry answered, not realizing Corvus’ inner struggle.

“Ah,” Corvus replied, well, if he wanted to use the kitchen who was he to stop him?

“I’ll make Basty some hot chocolate before we leave,” Harry decided, as he finished off his breakfast, by scooping up his beans and eating them.

“He will like that,” Corvus revealed, he’d certainly drank the entire contents of the last one. Merlin, his son was actually showing signs of improvement – small ones only someone who cared would notice mostly mentally – but it was there. He would never truly get better, not while he was still on that damn island. Passing over the letters that had come for Harry, all of them from Gringotts, so he didn’t need to clear them or caution him. He did freely admit, he was surprised Dumbledore hadn’t tried writing to the boy yet.

Opening his missive from the Ministry of magic he sighed in relief. He had demanded a wizengamot meeting, he regretfully had to wait to be informed of a time and date according to the letter. He was however, at the top of the list, so it shouldn’t be too long. Especially considering Dumbledore was no longer in charge as chief warlock. They’d need to pick a new one, and hopefully it would be one that was neutral at least. So that he could accomplish at least a little of what he wanted to when it came to his sons.

The parcels had come, this was a relief, he’d worried they wouldn’t before the first of September. He didn’t bother opening them, he knew what was inside they could wait. The other letters that had come were from Gringotts and a few from acquaintances, no doubt they’d had subtle hints of what he had done from the others and they too wanted in. They were fellow Death Eaters, so it was hardly surprising they’d take any show of solidary and strength they could. It’s something they desperately needed and wanted, something they had looked to the Dark Lord for. Guidance and advice, from a world that was slowly withering away, as more and more magic was banned and knowledge being burnt or forgotten. It was a disgrace to the name of wizard, but the Ministry held too much power.

“And that is Millicent here for your check up, shall we?” Corvus suggested, as both man and boy finished their drinks, coffee for Corvus and orange juice for Harry. He’d already drank his milk and a glass of water, while consuming his potions.

As always the check up was done in his office, with the exception of the first time, which had been done in Harry’s bedroom.

“Good morning, Millicent, how are you this morning?” Corvus asked, barely glancing at the House-elf who brought a fresh platter of coffee for them. He did notice or rather hear Harry thanking her politely and quietly, he didn’t stop Harry from doing it, it was rather odd to see but nonetheless if it made Harry feel better about it who was he to stop him? he had warned him how others would react – especially those with old blood – upon seeing it so that he was forewarned and would know how to deal with it.

“Hi, I am very well, thank you, how are you two doing?” Millicent asked as she removed her travel cloak, and set it aside, putting her bag on the table top she always used.

Corvus replied that he was well enough, and sat himself down and got comfortable, watching over Harry as he was seen to by Millicent. It never took long for her to look over him, a few spells was all it took, in fact it took longer to read the results actually, whether or not the injuries were healed, they still showed up.

“How are you feeling when you wake up?” Millicent enquired, once the spell work was complete, not quite reading it yet. After all, the spell didn’t tell you what a patient could. “What would you put your pain level at?”

“Two,” Harry stated firmly.

“Good, that’s good, it’s lessening then,” Millicent nodded, Harry’s two was probably somewhere around a five or a six maybe more on a normal wizard’s pain scale level. A two was the furthest it had been as of yet, she was extremely pleased with his process.

Harry just smiled, he loved the fact he was getting better. To think if he had just gotten money out to stay at a hotel or something like he’d planned…he would have still been in severe pain. Everything had worked out better, and Harry was just glad he hadn’t fought Corvus on the idea of living here.

“And your exercise regimen?” Millicent asked.

“A little better, I can do more without feeling exhausted?” Harry said, sounding more like a question than statement.

“That’s to be expected, you have to give your body time to heal, with it will come stamina and strength. Potions aren’t miracle workers, but they do wonders. By this time next year you’ll be able to run around the Quidditch pitch without breaking sweat no doubt.” She teased him lightly, it was obvious he was disappointed with his process, but she was in awe of it. “You are doing so well, Harry, please don’t be discontented with your process.”

“Okay,” Harry conceded, unable to protest that he wasn’t, but the truth of the matter he was, he wanted to be better already.

“And for Hogwarts?” Corvus asked, crossing his legs as he observed Millicent, wondering at her decision. Was Harry well enough to attend Hogwarts or was it an impossible demand of Harry’s healing body?

“Well, quite honestly…astronomy is my only concern, with it being at the top of the castle, seven floors is a long way to go.” Millicent revealed, “Most other times you’ll be lucky if you go passed the fourth floor. Except of course depending on where he ends up being sorted.”

Corvus nodded conceding the point, it was true enough.

“Using the Floo to get to class isn’t exactly forbidden, if asked, perhaps an explanation as to why he cannot go up the stairs?” Millicent continued, “Or perhaps go to class half an hour early and begin your journey in leisure? You could consider it part of your regimen.” Here she was obviously talking to Harry.

“It depends upon whom he gains as a Head of House, I cannot and will not trust Minerva McGonagall, she’s too entrenched with Dumbledore.” Corvus stated, he was never going to compromise his wards safety by trusting that ilk.

“Have you done your exercises today yet?” Millicent asked.

“No, I do them around ten o’clock sometimes eleven,” Harry replied, he did some reading before he did anything like that giving the potions amble time to work yet begun before they started to wear off.

“Then perhaps Corvus, you could see whether Harry would make it on his own?” Millicent suggested, “Either way, he has recovered enough to attend Hogwarts. Only just, but if he slips with his regimen or begins to forget taking his potions…the process he’s made will take a nosedive, prolonging his recovery for months. That in itself would require him to be removed from Hogwarts.”

“Then we shall begin after lunch,” Corvus declared, give him enough time after visiting Azkaban to recover. Although the dementors seem to be affecting him less severely each time they visited. He was pleased with the improvement, perhaps it was his ill health that had exacerbate the problem he’d faced in front of the wraiths. It was going to be an impossibly long day.

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“May I?” Corvus gestured towards the sofa with the parcels in his hands, Harry was lounging, a book propped open against his knees, as it was so often the case. He’d know if there was something wrong whereupon Harry didn’t have a book in his hand. Asking permission to enter Harry’s suite, as he always did, this place was solely Harry’s and he would not just come and go as he pleased. Millicent suggested he ensured that Harry had a safe place that was just his for his mental wellbeing. It was for this reason that Corvus rarely disturbed Harry while he was in his bedroom. unfortunately, with Hogwarts looming on the horizon he had to have that talk with him.

Harry blinked in surprise, automatically closing his book, after stuffing a bookmark inside the pages so he didn’t lose his place nodding all the while. “Is everything okay?” normally Corvus preferred to be alone after visiting Azkaban, yes, it had been hours ago, but still, he was often quiet afterwards. He sort of understood, seeing your son like that couldn’t be any sort of comfort. Corvus loved his sons, he had so many pictures of them lying around. Surprisingly, after the first week, he stopped seeing them as wizards who had tortured people but rather sons to a devoted father. Although from what Harry understood, the boys hadn’t actually done the deed it was more so Barty and Bellatrix that caused the irreversible damage to the Longbottoms. Although Corvus had made it clear they weren’t innocent…he wondered if he could make it seem that way. To give Corvus’ back his sons.

He would need to plan it perfectly though and it might take a while. Thankfully Corvus kept him up to date with all things related to his ‘Betrothed’ thank Merlin he was a traditionalist, that he did despite his – Harry’s – young age.

“Before you leave for Hogwarts tomorrow…we have a few things to go over, for your protection.” Corvus informed Harry, taking a seat next to him instead of sitting opposite him. He was going to miss Harry, a great deal more than anticipated when they first made this deal.

Harry’s brow furrowed slightly, “Like what?”

“To start with, you need not be ashamed of your ability to talk to snakes, many people in our circles would do anything to have the ability. Unfortunately, a greater many of the magical world is prejudice towards the gift. They like to say that there hasn’t been a decent one who could speak to snakes, and that it is a trait of a dark wizard.”

“Is that true?” Harry asked, not reacting positively or negatively yet, just cocked his head to the side.

“No, the last few according to Ministry standards were…evil, but there has been a lot of good by Parseltongue’s, there are books, spells, a whole different branch of magic created…potions and buildings paid for by those who had the ability.” Corvus explained seriously, “As you’ll no doubt have deduced the Dark Lord is one of the last known speakers, it has been assumed up until this point that he was the only remaining heir.” Which wasn’t the case at all, as both James and Lily were related to him, different branches of the family of course, it was little wonder Harry had the ability.

“Branch of magic?” Harry perked up, green eyes positively gleaming with greed. A branch of magic only he could use, the thought was heady, he didn’t care about what people thought of him…not really.

Corvus chuckled dryly, he should have realized this would be Harry’s reaction. “Yes, it’s called Parselscript or less common used snakescript. For most part, people don’t realize what it is they have in their possession or how much it’s worth. Priceless is the value of those books. To those who are Parselmouth’s the script is written in English with a sort of glazed overtone, of squiggles that show up when you first look at it. At least it is the case of one of the speakers at any rate.”

Harry’s lips twitched, glancing knowingly at Corvus, “You mean Voldemort don’t you?”

Corvus sighed, “Yes, I was the one who gifted him with his first Parselscript book you know, back when we were young. He has…the biggest collection of Parselscript books in the country if not the world.” Before he died, but he liked to think nobody had gotten their hands on the books, the Dark Lord was much too cautious to allow such blasphemy to happen. He was surprised Harry didn’t hold it against him, his friendship with the Dark Lord. Yet he never seemed to react negatively – or positively but he didn’t expect that – he was mostly indifferent.

Harry took note of the ‘He has’ which indicated that Corvus either was in denial – and he seemed too smart for that – or he didn’t believe Voldemort was dead. If he didn’t believe him to be dead…then there was the possibility that Corvus was right. Not that it mattered, there was absolutely nothing Harry could do. So, parseltongue, Parselmouth, why bring that particular piece of information up? Why did he find it so vital now? He quickly gained an idea or two. “So…you want me to hide my ability? To stop people finding out?” his brow furrowed.

“I am…merely appraising you so that you can make an informed decision. It would be very remis of me if for example you find yourself overwhelmed by the student body’s…reactions to your ability.” Corvus explained slowly. “This way you’re prepared for whichever decision you make. Personally myself, and everyone I know worships the gift you’ve been given and we are all be truly envious of your ability.” Making it clear he wasn’t one of the population who abhorred Harry’s ability. “It is a shame you cannot marry my Basty, for you’d make a wonderful husband.”

Harry flushed beet red at the praise, a warm glow spreading like wildfire throughout his entire body. “Thank you,” he said, sounding as bashful as he looked.

“Now, this ring, is more than just a show of your Betrothal, it will prevent anyone from poisoning you, or giving you potentially harmful potions.” Corvus raised Harry’s hand, showing it to him. “I have something I wish to give you, it will ensure your mind cannot be read or influenced by an outside source.”

“Dumbledore?” Harry asked, speculatively looking at Corvus, it was who concerned the wizard most so it wasn’t difficult to put the pieces together.

“You are too smart for your own good,” Corvus sighed resignedly, “But yes, he is who is concerning me, I will try not to let my own judgement cloud your perception of the old fool…”

“He left me to be abused…had people watching over me…they probably reported to him,” Harry swallowed thickly, “He was supposed to protect me, tell me about the magical world, keep my estate up and running…and you think I have anything but a bad judgement of him?”

“This is true, but I will not influence you, not that I believe it’s easy to do so, you’re extremely sharp,” Corvus revealed proudly, “I could not be more prouder of you if you tried.”

Harry flung himself at Corvus, wrapping his thin bony arms around his neck and clung to him. The overwhelming feeling of…Harry didn’t know what…consuming him whole. This…this was it made him feel on top of the world, he would do anything, literally anything just to hear those words uttered again. He closed his eyes, as they wetted due to the unexpected tears clinging to his eyes. He’d wanted this for the entirety of his life, it hadn’t happened the way he used to dream about as a child. Go figure it would happen when he’d gotten all hope of that dream becoming a reality.

Corvus barely grunted as Harry came flying at him, he remained stunned for a moment, unsure of what to do. Not because he hadn’t hugged before but the abruptness of it. After a few seconds he relaxed and returned the embrace, wondering if Harry had ever received any sort of affection in his life at all, from anyone. The fact Harry designed to gift such a thing to anyone was mesmerising, he could feel the wetness at his neck and became a little concerned. “Harry?” patting his back trying to soothe him as he had often done with his sons.

“Thank you,” Harry croaked out through a suddenly stuffy nose. He never wished to relinquish the contact.

“No thanks needed for stating the truth, but you’re welcome, nonetheless,” Corvus said, rubbing his hand up and down Harry’s back, giving him the contact he so desperately sought. Making a mental note to be a little bit more…physical with him so that he didn’t get the impression that its unwelcomed.

Harry seemed to gather himself after that, as he reluctantly loosened his hold and leaned back, the packages had fallen in his ambush. Blushing just slightly, he bent down to retrieve the packages and handed them to him.

“They are for you,” he said, pressing them back into his palm, “This one first.” Giving the smaller package first.

Harry still hadn’t gotten used to the gift giving business, and he wished so desperately that there was something he could give Corvus. Yet he didn’t realise he had given Corvus the greatest gift of all. Hope. It was perhaps why Harry was determined to see that Corvus’ sons were released from Azkaban prison.

Harry would soon come to realize he wanted it far more than just for Corvus.

“It’s a pendant, a shield charm is imbued, it will prevent your mind from being penetrated or read for that matter along with a few dozen other spells, which are inconsequential it was purchased for just one thing. The protection of your memories and thoughts.” Corvus explained, “I had it specially made for you, I just regret that I couldn’t give you one with the Lestrange coat of arms.” If he did and Dumbledore got wind of it, it would make things much more difficult for all of them in the long run. “Perhaps one day you can proudly wear one.” He didn’t see that happening, not in the four years Harry would be attached to the Lestrange family. Although, he was sticking to his earlier thoughts, if he could extend the contract he would do so immediately.

It was expensive, yes, but nothing that tied him to the Lestrange family. Everyone who saw it would know Harry was betrothed to an extremely well off family but that was it. He’d had it drawn and sent off weeks ago. The amount of pain Harry was constantly in, he knew meditation wouldn’t come easily, let alone enable him to erect mental shields. After it had been created he had someone imbue a powerful shield charm that would repel mind readers. It had been checked and approved and he trusted their workmanship. They weren’t the best for no reason. They did not take failure well. It was charmed so it couldn’t be stolen or worse removed in order for someone to force their way in. “Here, let me,” Corvus murmured, as he opened the chain and clipped it into place, he felt the tingling indicating that it was working. “Don’t take it off, unless you’re in a place you fully trust, not the be accosted.”

Harry nodded, absently fiddling with it.

“Good, open the next one,” Corvus encouraged. It was nice to see his gifts appreciated, truly appreciated that didn’t come with the expectation of expecting better or something more expensive. Like his wife used to be, she didn’t like showy gaudy items, and she had stolen his breath away every time she saw something he’d bought her, her eyes had lit up with delight. Just as Harry’s did, she would have adored him, smothered him completely in unconditional love, just as she’d done to their sons.

“A journal?” Harry asked, his fingers trailing down, “It feels…magical…”

“That’s because it is,” Corvus said, so Harry was fast becoming aware of the presence of magic this was good. He hadn’t expected him to become sensitive to magic for at least four or five years. It’s only supposed to be when you become more accustomed to casting spells on a daily basis. More powerful people are more…sensitive to magic, this was interesting, the boy had the capacity to be extremely powerful and not just smart. Given his lineage it wasn’t really called into question. “I will have the other, this way we can communicate, letters and owls are not…the most safe and private of means. They can be intercepted, and it’s a bit much to ask you to remember to write in code.”

“Oh,” Harry felt warmth surging through him yet again, Corvus wanted to keep in touch with him! Even while he was away at Hogwarts.

“Now see that rune? It requires both our bloods so that only you and I can read them, nothing can circumvent it, not even someone using Polyjuice potion. A potion that once used, allows the drinker to take the appearance at will, all they need is hair or nails from the person they want to become.” Corvus pointed towards the dormant rune, which would be active and glow blue the second the first drop of blood is placed upon it. “Hold out your hand, I’ll use a spell to summon only a pinprick of blood, which is all that’s required of this.”

Harry screwed up his nose at the prospect of someone taking his nails or something to use in a potion to become him. He didn’t even blink at the spell, or when his thumb was pressed down on his own book, it flared blue, nearly encompassing Harry’s entire hand before it settled white before diminishing entirely. “There, now its secure, not even I can read the contents of your journal, but I will on the duplicate here,”

“Can someone duplicate the actual book?” Harry cocked his head to the side, he knew a lot of magic but not everything.

“No, it is spelled impossible to do so, it’s perfectly safe.” Corvus promised, smiling in approval, he asked all the right questions, he would make an amazing young man one day. An amazing lawyer to boot, should he desire to still become one when the time came. “Just like all modern books are spelled to prevent copying.”

“You really want me to write to you?” Harry asked, unable to curb that question, showing his vulnerability in a way he had yet to do so.

“Of course, I want to know what house you get sorted into, the friends you make and how you’re settling in, I want to know everything,” Corvus stated immediately. Which was true, he also wanted to make sure that everyone he had warned from bothering Harry stuck to that. To make sure nobody else did either, otherwise he would need to make sure they were warned off. Harry had the backing of the Lestranges’ even if he couldn’t state publicly as such, but the Lestranges’ nonetheless.

Harry smiled tremulously at Corvus, feeling a little overwhelmed.

“Now have you packed?” Corvus asked, considering a lot of the books he’d had on his table were absently he believed Harry had partially packed at least.

“I’m ready for Hogwarts, I didn’t pack any of the books other than what I was supposed to, promise,” Harry said sincerely, remembering the cautions Corvus had given him about taking books away from the manor. He often wanted to take them with him while he visited Azkaban.

“There is nothing wrong with making copies, which is what I’ve done, a few books on law, Parselscript and Defence Against the Dark Arts Grade Four which is what you are up to I believe?” Corvus questioned, unless he had read the next book, he was going to find himself utterly bored at Hogwarts if he wasn’t careful.

Harry grinned widely, “Yeah,” he replied very pleased, he couldn’t wait to see what the Parselscript was like and what kind of treasure trove of information it housed inside.

“Now this is a warning, not to you, but for you,” Corvus stated, placing his hand on Harry’s, “Dumbledore is an expert manipulator, as much as it disgusts me to say this, he’d put nearly all to shame with his ability. He will use everything he knows in order to get you to do what he wants. He will even bring up your parents, seem horrified over the abuse you suffered, and even the tone of voice draws you in, enables one to lower their guard. Even the questions he askes are for a reason as he builds up to what he really knows. Dumbledore waited for the optimal time during the war with Grindelwald to act, he’s capable of a great deal of patience. He plays the long game, you must remain strong and appear unaffected, don’t let him win, or don’t let him know he’s winning.” He corrected, it was a bit much to expect that Harry could even think of outmanoeuvring Dumbledore even for a minute.

“I’ll do my best, I promise,” Harry said the urge to hug Corvus again was strong, some of that must have shown on his face or Corvus just knew him that well. As he spread out his arms again, giving Harry the go ahead, accepting the would be embrace.

“I know you will,” Corvus agreed, tightening his hold a little on the boy, not too much his body was still healing after all. He hoped they weren’t doing the wrong thing in letting Harry go to Hogwarts. Unfortunately, there was nothing to be done, it was per the contract that Harry attend Hogwarts, neither he nor Dorea had the forethought to add a few clauses just to be on the safe side. He would be attending, but if his health did decline then he would be returning here, regardless of the contract. He wasn’t pulling Harry out of Hogwarts completely, just for some time until he was considered at what would be Harry’s ‘full health’ card which would never be 100% what the Dursley’s had done to him would last forever.

Which was why he had stepped up his revenge, this time focusing on Marge Dursley, she’d known about the abuse, watched it, participated in it. So, he did not feel bad about the downfall of yet another Muggle who deserved everything they got and more. She would find herself in a world of hurt, they all would until Harry decided he wanted them punished OR he decided he wanted them dead. Either way, the Dursley’s were in for a lifetime of worry and fears, they would experience everything Harry did, he would make sure of it.

 

Harry just sighed softly, closing his eyes relishing in the act of human contact.

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There we go! Next chapter will see Harry at Hogwarts! How long he remains there with Dumbledore's constant manipulation remains to be seen! I don't think Corvus will put up with it after all! What will be the straw that breaks the camels back? The petrification? The Chamber Of Secret Incident? Pettigrew? Will Voldemort get the stone and leave Harry due to the fact its blatantly obvious he has no desire to fight him? Or will he still be a bit on the insane side until he gathers his Horcruxes? Is Harry one? Will Corvus realize what Harry is? Will Harry end up competing in the tournament? Or Will the Dark Lord have already returned? If not will Corvus take a risk in helping Harry earning the Dark Lord's wrath or will all be well once everything is explained? So many ways it can go and I can't wait to see the direction the strongest of muses take me in ;) Will Harry sit with Ron and take a disliking to him due to the constant complaining or will he be sitting with his new friends he'd made with Corvus' aid? Slytherin or Ravenclaw Harry?

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 13

First Year of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

To say Harry was feeling a whole slew of different emotions would be putting it lightly. Due to the fact Corvus believed Dumbledore would have many people stationed around the platform of nine and three quarters he elected to say goodbye at the manor. He however, refused to let Harry go on his own, nobody deserved to go alone, especially with their first trip to the train. With so many people around, Corvus believed he’d use Alastor Moody to look for Harry, and as good as he was the wizard could see through all disguises. Definitely not worth the hassle, he needed to find a way to block the blasting magical eye of his in future. For that, he had brought in the wizard who helped Harry feel most at ease. Adam Greengrass, Daphne’s father, who was seeing his own daughter to the train this morning anyway.

“…take your time, do not let anyone rush you,” Corvus continued to say, but Adam Greengrass had a knowing look on his face as he deliberately faced away from the pair. Eyeing the fireplace as he thought on his own family. His daughter was saying her last minute goodbyes to her sister – who was too sick to come with them – and their mother wished to remain behind to watch over Astoria not trusting the House-elves to do an adequate job.

“I won’t,” Harry said sincerely, his stomach twisting unpleasantly, perhaps he shouldn’t have eaten any breakfast at all. Unfortunately, Corvus wouldn’t let him leave the table without something in his stomach. He had gone without too long, and he refused to see him decline out of nerves he’d said.

“I’ve put lunch in your bag, I know the temptation to eat nothing but sweets is big, but please refrain, I’ve added a few sweets you might like in your lunch that you’re allowed.” Corvus explained, the sweets that had been okayed by Millicent were nothing on what was available for purchase on the trolley. “It’s a long train ride, so make sure you have a few books in your bag.”

“I did,” Harry nodded, he’d been aware that the ride was long, seven to eight hours long as a matter of fact. He’d added his cards and Rune Dominoes too, just in case anyone wanted to play.

“Be aware of any changes in someone when they learn your name, these are people you should avoid,” Corvus added, “Fame seekers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. You want friends who will be equals not riding on your coattails, those sorts will only bring you down.” that was something he didn’t want Harry to experience.

“I promise,” Harry declared, giving Corvus a sweet smile for caring. He loved the fact someone cared enough to offer advice, he wasn’t used to it yet, but he would get there, Corvus would make sure of it.

“Good, I look forward to hearing where you’ve been placed, and I’ll see you on Saturday,” Corvus said, he hadn’t felt like this since he had seen Rabastan off to Hogwarts for the first time all those years ago. He didn’t question how it is he could care for someone so much in such a short space of time. He was just grateful that his life wasn’t so empty anymore. And it had been empty, so very empty.

Both of them stood there awkwardly for a few moments before Corvus remembered his promise to himself. Stepping forward, he wrapped his arms around Harry and brought him into a hug. He wasn’t by any means a physical contact kind of man, except when it came to family. So, hearing Greengrass give a little voice of surprise, he ignored it in favour of making sure Harry knew welcoming touches in his life. He’d had so little of it, nobody deserved to have only violence in their lives. Whispering into Harry’s ear, giving him one last piece of advice. “But most importantly of all, have fun and enjoy the experience, do not let anyone take that away from you.” Because he had a feeling Dumbledore surely would try.

“I’ll try,” Harry informed Corvus, he would do his best, the only thing about the school he was looking forward to was maybe having some friends and the library. Although Corvus said it wasn’t as grand as it had been in his time, and well, the Lestrange library was two to three times bigger than what Hogwarts had to offer. Understandable since the Lestranges’ had every magical arts known to the wizarding world, and even some they had forgotten. Anything Hogwarts has, Lestrange library had too in other words. Only they weren’t limiting knowledge of magic to a single branch.

Stepping back Corvus asked “You have nothing that is inappropriate in your trunk? Including anything I’ve given you with the Lestrange coat of arms?” yet again. He’d asked last night but this was important after all. He hadn’t given Harry many things with the Lestrange coat of arms on it, since most items he’d given Harry were for daily use. “Have the portkey?”

“Nothing and yes,” Harry replied to both questions.

“Very well, Hedwig is going to fly on to Hogwarts on her own,” Corvus said, glancing at the time, if he left it any later they would be late for the Hogwarts express. He couldn’t deny Harry the opportunity to ride on the train, it was a rite of passage after all.

“Okay,” Harry replied, it was better than the uncomfortable ride to Hogwarts in the travel cage. Plus, Hedwig really liked stretching her wings. She could find him anywhere, or so he’d been told so she’d be safe. He didn’t have anyone to owl anyway, except if he chose to owl order something.

“Good, I apologise for not being able to see you off on the train,” Corvus added, genuinely sorry not see Harry off on his first train ride. Unfortunately, it was much too dangerous to allow any of their plans to be caught on to this early in the game. Not that he considered Harry’s safety a game, far from it.

“It’s okay, I understand,” Harry replied, and he did, he knew if the wizarding world found out that they would do everything they could to sperate them. to stop him coming back here for fear of them losing their ‘saviour’ to the less than savoury people of the magical world. Which is what people thought of the Lestrange’s and those who had followed Voldemort apparently.

“Go on then, follow Lord Greengrass, he will see you safely on the train,” Corvus urged Harry to the fireplace to use the Floo network, they would portkey from there. “You’ll let me know that he’s safely on the train?” it wasn’t a question, really, it was a demand.

Adam nodded just once in understanding. “Of course,” he had never seen Corvus this way before, he was actually anxious. Considering how Harry was, he didn’t blame him. He wouldn’t have been able to send his daughter to Hogwarts the way Harry was…is. He wasn’t sure why Corvus was, but he believed there was a reason, but whatever that reason was, he wasn’t privy to.

Before long, the pair were gone, leaving Corvus to feel strangely bereft without Harry’s constant presence, and it was only day one. Or zero really, whichever you prefer to start with.

------0

“Whoa!” was all Harry said as he stared at the Hogwarts Express, as the steam bellowed all over, filling the magical side of the train station with steam. There were dozens upon dozens of people clamouring around, parents hugging and advising their kids, older kids teasing the younger ones because they couldn’t attend yet. Harry could immediately tell the pureblood’s from the half-blood’s or Muggle-borns/Muggle-raised. The pureblood’s didn’t have their trunks visible, but the others…they were lugging their trunk after them in clear frustration at the weight they’re having to pull.

“Beautiful isn’t she?” Adam said, staring at the engine, vividly reminded of his own experiences at eleven years old.

“She? I like that,” Daphne said, eyes gleaming in satisfaction.

“You would,” Adam gently teased his daughter, who he had raised to be a little too independent, not wishing for anyone to walk all over her. In this society, it was bound to happen regretfully, but now…well, he feared she might come across as too strong and intimidating to her betrothed as she ages. Only time would tell, he supposed, plus Daphne might not think much of him when it comes to decision time. “Have a good time, and remember to write home, both of you,” he said, “You’re mother and Corvus would be most displeased otherwise.”

Harry grinned, relishing in the fact someone cared.

“I will, father, I promise,” Daphne said, hugging him around the middle for a moment, before stepping back and declaring, “Come on, Harry, let’s go before all the good compartments are taken.” With that she skipped off, not burdened down by her trunk or an animal.

“Bye, Lord Greengrass,” Harry said properly, before following after Daphne, not wishing to lose himself in amongst the people. He inwardly cringed just imagining ending up bloody trampled on or hit by a dozen bodies as they cared only about themselves not the others they’re passing by. Daphne grabbed a hold of Harrys clothed wrist, both ducking under arms, swinging left or right to avoid bodies, both Daphne and Harry made it onto the Hogwarts Express.

“I’m finally going to Hogwarts,” Daphne said, admiration and excitement exuding from her, despite her training but she didn’t care. It wasn’t as if her father was here to reprimand her for it after all.

Harry glanced at her, not sharing her enthusiasm. If he had remained at the Dursley’s he probably would have been more excited than even Daphne. He missed Corvus and the quietness, the loudness of the train station was grating on his ears. “Let’s find a compartment,” at least he hoped it would be quieter there.

“The others will be keeping one for us,” Daphne declared, “At least I hope so!” with that, she began to walk again, poking her head in each compartment they passed looking for her friends. She kept her pace slow enough that Harry could keep up, aware of his inability to keep up due to his illness.

“Tracy!” Daphne said, positively beaming at the girl, as she stepped into the compartment, as though it had been weeks since they saw each other last not just yesterday.

“Hey, Daphne!” Tracy Davis exclaimed, giving a curious look at the boy beside her best friend, “Is he lost?”

Daphne had to stop herself snorting, it was very unladylike after all, “No, this is my friend.”

Tracy stared blankly at Daphne wondering what was going on.

“Harry, this is Tracy Davis and Millicent Bulstrode, Millie, Tracy, this is Harry Potter,” Daphne said, enjoying their reactions immensely. This was going to be fun she thought in amusement.

“Having fun there?” Harry whispered to her, rolling his eyes, coughing to stop himself laughing. At their expressions, if it had been anyone other than those his age he might have found himself very angry or defensive. Plus, Corvus said to look out for people who might use him. He noticed by their expressions they were shocked and confused, mostly, presumably because of his association with Daphne which clearly hadn’t been mentioned before. although, how could it have been?

“Of course,” Daphne grinned smugly, “You have to all get into Slytherin,”

“As if we’d go anywhere else,” Tracy and Millie muttered in sync.

Harry stared blankly at being faced with three girls all staring expectantly at him. what did they want from him? He was so new at this he just didn’t understand people. “What?”

“Where do you think you’ll go?” Daphne prompted, it wasn’t the first time Harry had seemed so confused by their conversations. So, she always made sure to guide him if necessary, given what her father told her, he hadn’t had much of a life.

“Why bother speculating? I’m not the sorting hat?” Harry pointed out befuddled, for all their declarations, it meant little to the inevitable sorting. “It won’t change the outcome.”

“Most people know where they’re going,” Tracy said, “Like Daphne, her family is made up of Ravenclaws and Slytherin’s, both her parents are Slytherins and she’s most likely going there too.”

“Then if that’s how it works then I’m supposed to end up in Gryffindor,” Harry pointed out wryly, “Although my grandmother was a Black and a Slytherin so who knows?” not to mention he was related to Salazar Slytherin on both sides of his family.

Tracy was startled by that, “A Black?” quickly glancing at Daphne, “I’m surprised you’re amendable towards any Black even a grandmother you didn’t know.” Getting over the fact that Harry Potter’s grandmother was apparently a Black, how could she not know this information? Everything regarding Harry Potter was known, he’d been published so often that it was understandable really.

“Oh? Why’s that?” Harry asked, giving her a dismissive look, knowing it would get her to talk quicker than anything else could. Giving him the truth as bluntly as possible…what could he say, Corvus had been teaching him a lot of tricks. Albeit mostly after Harry had seen Rabastan doing them.

“Trac…” Daphne cautioned at the same time Tracy spoke,

“Don’t you know your godfather Sirius Black betrayed your family?”

“So, by that I’ve to have every Black because of the actions of one? Hate my own grandmother just because of one wizard? It’s like suggesting I hate all wizards because of the actions of the one who killed my parents.” Harry pointed out, not reacting to her proclamation. It looked like Corvus had forgotten to tell him a vital piece of information. He knew it wasn’t out of spite, but Harry still wanted answers so that was something he’d ask later tonight.

Despite the fact he was reeling, he was still able to make Tracy quiet down despite the deliberate attempt to get to him.

Daphne shook her head at Tracy, honestly, after that she wasn’t sure Tracy was going to end up in Slytherin. Harry though…Harry definitely played that well enough to end up in Slytherin without a doubt. There was enough Lestrange mannerisms for her to catch up on just where and who he’d learned from. If she hadn’t just seen Lord Lestrange do something similar a few days ago, she wouldn’t have remembered. “Definitely a Slytherin, anything else and I’ll be disappointed,” Daphne said to lighten the mood.

Harry just shook his head, refusing to be drawn into the speculation, he didn’t know where he’d end up. He had Corvus’ reassurance that no matter where he went it didn’t change how he felt or his new situation.

“If Pansy doesn’t hurry she’ll miss the train,” Millie commented, glancing out the window at the waving parents. “Do you think they’re late?”

“She’s probably sitting with Draco, Vincent and Greg,” Tracy shook her head, already forgetting the earlier. “And will until they’ve measured up the rest of the first years.” A bored look on her face, honestly, Draco and Pansy could be intolerable sometimes.

Harry silently wondered how she didn’t realize she’d just done the same thing to him. shrugging his shoulders, it wasn’t worth even getting into if he was honest. Readjusting his bag, he fished out book, and got himself comfortable. The sounds fading away as the train left the station. The only sounds were the pages turning, the quiet conversing of the girls, and the sound of his own breathing. This was nice, he didn’t feel lonely that way, didn’t miss Corvus so much.

His mind did wander off sometimes, wondering who the hell this Sirius Black was – his godfather obviously – and what had happened – something to do with his parents death – and where exactly he was. At the end of the day, he would have his answers, Corvus would clear everything up. He hadn’t been aware of the existence of a godfather let alone that he’d betrayed his parents for whatever reason. He didn’t feel angry over it, his parents were gone, being angry wasn’t going to change that. His primary purpose had always been survival, and this would be just like that too.

They were only interrupted a few times after the train begun to traverse to Hogwarts in earnest. Mostly by people obviously looking for somewhere to sit or friends. One boy in particular stood out, his face had been completely red in either frustration or humiliation, perhaps both? It’s the same look his uncle Vernon wore when he got embarrassed. Only with the red hair he looked even worse than Vernon had. The girls seemed to take an exception to his presence, Harry wanted to ask why but decided against it. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

After that there were only two interruptions, one came in the form of a girl looking for a toad of all things. Daphne had just stared at her like she was nuts. “Are you a witch or not?” and with that they shooed her out and closed the door in her face, they still heard the indignation remark of “We can’t do magic outside of Hogwarts!” in a haughty voice.

Then the food trolley came around, he understood what Corvus meant, there was absolutely nothing on the trolley except junk food. No sandwiches, no sausage rolls, or pies, something a little more healthy or filling than sweets. It also explained his lunch and the few sweets he’d been allowed too. He was getting hungry, and watching everyone gorge themselves of sweets actually put him off eating, as it made him feel sick to his stomach. Nobody asked why he didn’t want anything, Daphne’s not so subtle glare warned them off.

He did force himself to eat, he didn’t want to put back his progress, which had been made clear deviating from the plan would do that. Millicent would be disappointed and Corvus would get upset and worried, not something he wanted to see from either of them. They were so happy with his improvement, and he was too, the lack of debilitating pain was wonderful.

Then of course, was the fact if he hadn’t got help he would have died…it was a scary thought and ensured he kept to the plan set out for him.

He didn’t want to die. Not after just learning to live.

The announcement that they were approaching Hogwarts lit a fire under them, as they all squealed excitedly. They did not need to change their clothes, for they were already dressed in their pristine school wear, which despite the fact they ate in was still just perfectly in order.

----------0

"Over 'ere firs' years! Over 'ere!" yelled Hagrid, a lamp in his huge, beefy hands. "C'mon. Don' be shy, now. Tha's it, come on, this way!" Once the man was sure he had all the first years, he lumbered away.

"A' righ', no more 'n' four te a boat, now! Go on," said Hagrid, ushering them onto the boats. Harry slid onto the boat with Tracy, Daphne and Millicent who he’d spent the train ride with. Not that they’d given him a chance to decide, honestly, they were treating him like a baby duckling…even Tracy.

They all gasped when they got their first look at the ancient castle. The place was truly amazing, as his parents had described it to be in his bedtime stories. Harry gazed in mesmerisation, it was exactly as Corvus had drawn for him, his memories of the school was near enough to draw it from memory – not that it was actually possible to draw something with one hundred percent accuracy from memory.

They got off the boats shivering, since by then, night had settled in and it was getting chilly. Let’s not forget they were moving at a brisk pace, the wind hitting them constantly in the face. Entering a cave, and floating down to a rocky dock, were they actually under the school? Neat.

Not long after, they had left the boathouse and climbed the stairs to a large door. Hagrid raised his big, beefy hand and banged on the door, where a Professor ushered them in and Hagrid said, "'Ere 're th' firs' years, P'rfesser."

"Thank you, Hagrid," said McGonagall to him, then faced the first years. "Follow me," ordered the woman. Her hair was in a tight bun and she had a no-nonsense voice and matching look around her.

She led them to the entrance hall and stopped them again just before the entrance to the Great Hall's main doors. Harry ached already, leaning against the wall, sweating a little, maybe he had been premature to come here so quickly.

“Are you okay?” Theodore asked Harry concerned, he’d only met the boy once, but his father and Corvus Lestrange had made it clear. They were to look out for Harry and to make sure he was taken care of and to report anything and everything to their parents and thus Corvus if anything happened.

“I’m fine,” Harry said automatically, he was not going to start his Hogwarts education complaining about things he couldn’t change. Plus, as things stood, he’d be infinitely much worse off if he hadn’t asked the Goblins for aid.

“Okay,” Theodore said, doubt in his voice but he left Harry to it due to the fact everyone looked up hearing a voice.

"Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. My name is Professor McGonagall. The beginning of the year feast is about to begin, but before you can help yourself to the delicious food, you will need to be Sorted into your Houses. The Houses are Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. It will be your home for the next seven years, and it will become almost like your family. Good behaviour will gain you points with your House, while rule-breaking will cause you to lose points. I will return shortly, so make yourselves presentable," said McGonagall.

“How do you get sorted?” one student asked, causing the pureblood’s to scoff derisively, except one.

“I heard you have to fight a troll,” it came from the red headed boy from earlier.

Harry pursed his lips while those surrounding him sniggered in amusement, their disgust at the Weasley’s notch up more. This was coming from a boy who had five brothers pass though Hogwarts and he still didn’t know how the sorting went?

She entered the Great Hall for about five minutes, then came back out and announced, "They're ready for you now. Move along, the Sorting will start momentary."

A silence came over the Hall as the first years were lead up to the front of the Hall, where there sat an old, ratty hat on a stool.

Everyone watched as the hat twitched, then began to sing. There were sounds of startlement and awe from the students, even a mutter of ‘It’s enchanted to look like the night sky’ from another. It was the same girl from before the voice was unmistakable.

"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.

"You can keep your bowlers black,
your top hats sleek and tall,
for I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
and I can cap them all.

"There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
so try me on and I will tell you
where you ought to be.

"You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;

"You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
those patient Hufflepuff's are true
and unafraid of toil;

"Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you've a ready mind,
where those of wit and learning
will always find their kind;

"Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
those cunning folk use any means
to achieve their ends.

"So put me on! Do not be afraid!
Moreover, do not get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
for I'm a Thinking Cap!"

Applause broke out, whether for the song itself or just that it had ended was not known.

"When I call your name, sit down on the stool and place the Hat on your head. It will then Sort you into what House suits you best," Professor McGonagall instructed. She then looked at the scroll she held, and began calling names off it.

It begun with Hannah Abbot who went into Hufflepuff and continued on, Harry tried to remember the names, but he ached so badly he could barely pay attention.

Then came his name, “Potter, Harry!” Minerva called out, and despite the pain, Harry observed everyone’s reactions, the whispering if he was ‘the real Harry Potter’ and also noticed the teachers even sat up paying more attention. Dumbledore zeroed in on him immediately, and boy, his gaze was penetrating and he exuded trust and gentle nature that made Harry very wary of him.

Harry stepped forward, his walk confident and poised despite his pain, not letting it embarrass him. He was not going to let Corvus down, or himself. Everything he did would be watched after all, and reflect on him especially when he became Lord Potter. Which would then reflect on those he associated with. And decide on whether anyone wished to associate with him in turn.

It felt very good to seat his backside down for a moment, his back was aching like blazes.

‘Oh, difficult, very difficult’ came the sorting hat’s voice.

“How so?” Harry asked, his voice internal of course, as he spoke to the hat.

‘More than one house would suit you well, for both your goals, hmm, where to put you,’

“I’ll wait,” Harry said dryly.

‘Slytherin would suit your nature, and the fact you’re related by default you belong there, but it would make your life a little difficult…whereas in Ravenclaw you will go unnoticed’ the Hat hummed and hawed as he tried to decide.

“You mean Dumbledore?” Harry tensed, not liking the sound of that.

‘Slytherin to the core, Mr. Potter,’ the Hat said amused, ‘The decision I’ll leave up to you, both houses would suit you equally’ so equally that he couldn’t shout out the name of the house that would suit best.

“Does that happen often?” Harry asked genuinely surprised, not noticing everyone becoming increasingly curious, and some concerned at the amount of time he was spending under the hat. It should have already called out Gryffindor…that’s where the Boy-Who-Lived would go – everyone knew that – so what was taking so long?

‘More than you can fathom,’ the Hat declared mysteriously. ‘So, Mr. Potter…what’s it to be?’

Harry pursed his lips, flying under the radar sounded good…which left him with only one pick.

‘Very well…’ the Hat replied, not even needing Harry to finish his thoughts, “RAVENCLAW!”

Harry blinked at slight flooded back to his sight as the hat was removed by…what was her name? He couldn’t quite remember what she said..Gonogel or something? Standing up, he made his way towards the Ravenclaw table, giving Daphne a nod from the Slytherin table before sitting. Thank Merlin for that, he was exhausted, he was supposed to take a potion in an hour…so he had to endure until then.

“Welcome to Ravenclaw!” Terry Boot commented as Harry took a seat, blinking at the sight of the sheen of sweat coating Harry’s forehead. That sucked, getting sick just before starting Hogwarts, he wondered if the boy had taken Pepper-up Potions. He made a mental note to suggest he go see the Medi-witch. “I’m Terry Boot, you can call me Terry,”

“Thanks,” Harry said, shaking his hand, there was no sign of awe on his face, he took this as a good thing, but only time would tell. Not sure whether to give permission for him to use his name or not…he didn’t know him well enough to decide if he wanted him as a friend no matter how friendly he was at the moment.

Terry nodded, a knowing gleam in his eyes.

However, Harry noticed that others were looking at him as though he was a specimen in a lab, and made a mental note to avoid them, which might be difficult, they were older. “Where is Ravenclaw common room, by the way?” Harry asked, praying it wasn’t too far up.

“Five floors then an additional one to the tower,” one of them proclaimed a prefect badge on their robes.

Harry nodded when all he wanted to do was groan, just bloody perfect, six floors practically to get to his dorm. He would need to make sure he took everything with him in the morning so he didn’t need to go back during the days.

There were a few announcements after the Sorting (don't go to the third floor corridor or the Forbidden Forest, and outlawed joke products), then Dumbledore motioned and food appeared on all the tables. Harry wondered why anyone would bring attention to something like that. It was like waving a banner and saying come see what’s so forbidden in the third floor corridor.

------0

Two hours later, Harry was gratuitously ensconced in bed, thinking over everything that had happened or what he’d seen. Ravenclaw Tower which is located on the west side of the castle the entrance is a door at the top of a tightly winding spiral staircase that leads up from the fifth floor. The door has neither handle nor keyhole, but a talking bronze knocker in the shape of an eagle. The knocker will ask a question!! A riddle!! if answered correctly, the knocker will complement the person on the answer and the door will swing open. The common room…it was breath-taking.

The common room is decorated in House colours (blue and bronze silk wall hangings, and a midnight-blue carpet decorated with stars). The room is wide, circular, and very airy, with a domed ceiling painted with stars, and walls with graceful arched windows that provide a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. There are bookcases, tables, and chairs, and opposite the entrance is another door leading to the dormitories he’d found out. Beside this door is a plinth on which stands a life-size statue in white marble of Rowena Ravenclaw wearing her diadem which the prefect told him had been lost since the Founders time.

Michael Corner, Stephen Cornfoot, Kevin Entwhistle, and Anthony Goldstein shared one dorm room and he and Terry Boot shared the other. It was spacious and there was enough room for both of them to be comfortable without encroaching on each other.

He’d taken his potions for this evening and he’d showered, he was pleasantly lethargic but he had promised to write to Corvus and tell him how it went. Snuggling into the warmth of the covers, he opened his book, and begun to write with the self-inking quill that never got him messy or his documents. Putting to good use the lessons Corvus had given him on writing with one.

I’m finally at Hogwarts, I’ve eaten a healthy dinner, taken my potions and I got sorted into Ravenclaw. The Hat said I would do well in both Slytherin and Ravenclaw and that since I was related to Salazar it tipped it in my favour but it said I suited them both so well it wasn’t able to pick. It let me pick which one I wanted, warning me that being in Ravenclaw I’d be underestimated and safer and unnoticed.

Harry paused for a moment before continuing on.

I chose Ravenclaw for that reason, its beautiful here, although I wish I had chosen Slytherin…six floors is a bit much, but I’ve taken my potions and I’m fine. I promise.

Biting his lip thoughtfully, wondering what else to say.

The picture you painted did Hogwarts justice, it was beautiful, but I miss being home.

Harry cursed when he realized what he’d written, wondering if Corvus would be happy with his declaration or mad. He’d made it clear that Harry should think of Lestrange manor as home and he did. Deciding not to worry about something he couldn’t change now anyway.

Some of the Ravenclaws look at me like I’m a scientist experiment, but most are welcoming. I don’t know if I will be friends with any of them, but I will be able to tolerate them. I have that stupid Hogwarts song stuck in my head, the noise was atrocious.

Shoring himself mentally, he asked the questions that had plagued him all afternoon.

Who is Sirius Black and why didn’t you tell me about him?

He wondered how long it would take for an answer…would he need to wait until morning? He might need to anyway, he was so exhausted. Tomorrow he would need to start acclimatising to the castle, so he’d be on the move a lot. It was Sunday so he could relax a little, but after that school would begin on Monday.

Waiting a few moments, he closed the book, slid it under his pillow. Not having to worry about anyone reading it, since he trusted Corvus’ word that it was safe. The silencing charms were already up along with the magical alarm, so he didn’t sleep in or wake Boot with his nightmares if he should have one. After that Harry was dead to the world, his exhaustion coupled with the potions he was out for the count.

-------0

The next thing Harry remembered was wakening up on Sunday morning, no nightmares, just the gentle emergence from sleep with his alarm taking that moment to go off. He had given himself enough time to take his potions, shower, dress and get down to the Great Hall at a leisurely pace without showing up looking like he’d run a marathon. Looked and felt like he’d run a marathon to be frank.

It was Sunday, so when he picked out what to wear, he didn’t put his school uniform on instead he chose one of his brand new sets of clothes Corvus had got him. He wanted to make a good first impression after all, you couldn’t redo a first impression. Although, technically it was a second impression now, third for a few people who he had made acquaintances.

Leaving his dorm mate to sleep, he padded out the dorm, taking with him his shower bag and clothes to dress in the cubical. He didn’t want anyone seeing his scars, which had faded considerably but they were still visible even to his weak eye sight.

One hour later, he was washed, dressed, potions taken and making his way towards the Great Hall for breakfast. He hoped they had a better supply of healthy foods than they did last night. Otherwise keeping to his plan was going to be rather difficult. He wasn’t supposed to eat greasy foods after all, at least not in the quantity’s Hogwarts seemed to have in endless supply.

He kept a map of Hogwarts on him so that he was able to navigate if he wished. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his Sunday so he would keep his options open.

“Hey, I didn’t expect many people to be up,” Theodore said, jogging from the dungeons making his way to the Great Hall, “The girls are already inside.” So were the rest of the gang.

Harry turned around to see who was speaking to him, “Hey, you don’t mind that I’m a Ravenclaw?” slightly surprised by this, it seemed as if so far that houses kept to themselves.

“I won’t if you don’t mind I’m in Slytherin,” Theodore said, his tone cautious.

“The hat said I would fit in well in either house,” Harry said, shaking his head, of course, he didn’t mind. Perhaps he would have if he was raised in the magical world and had the prejudice ingrained but he didn’t. It seemed silly to him that they’d decide on where you were sorted to be friends or not.

“Looks like nobody from Ravenclaw is up yet,” Theodore commented at the empty section of the first year Ravenclaw table. “You can sit with us if you like, no doubt Draco will have something to say, but you can just ignore him.” Draco always had something to say after all.

“Is that even allowed?” Harry asked, as they both moved towards the Slytherin table, both of them dressed impeccably, so they didn’t stand out at all.

“Nobody does it often,” Theodore said, “But I don’t think it’s a rule, I didn’t see one in Hogwarts a history anyway,” and he’d read the book from front to back.

“Me neither,” it had been one of the first books he’d read.

“Good morning,” Theodore said as he sat down, making enough room for Harry.

They all replied with their own somewhat tired good mornings, “Do you know whether we will get our timetables today or tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow,” came the voice of the Slytherin Head Boy, “I’m Marcus Flint, Head Boy, need anything let me know,” he said, sensing that there was something he didn’t know brewing on the horizon. After all why would the Slytherin’s be so accepting of Harry Potter? The fact he was betrothed made him wonder just who to that the Slytherins accepted him without question. He knew asking wouldn’t get him any answers…not unless Harry revealed it himself. The ring didn’t give anything away.

“Thank you, Flint,” Harry said, nodding in acceptance to the offer.

Flint nodded once and moved away.

“It’s too bad that most of the classes we’ll have will be with Gryffindors,” Blaise commented, “Although I am looking forward to potions the most.”

“You’ve seen the timetable?” Harry queried, he wasn’t aware of who this boy was.

“No, we always get paired primarily with the Gryffindors all the time, according to the others,” gesturing towards the upper years. “I doubt it will change this year.”

“Well, that sucks,” Harry said, he would have preferred classes with the Slytherins, at least he knew who a few of them were. He didn’t know any of the Hufflepuff’s at all, he supposed he’d make friends with a few that were…a little more than tolerable. “Do you know any of the Hufflepuff’s?”

“Bones is alright,” Millicent said thoughtfully, Pansy reluctantly nodded in agreement, it was true, at least for a ‘puff anyway. “Macmillan too, avoid Smith, he’s an intolerable ass,” if any adult had been nearby her language wouldn’t have been as uncouth.

Harry snorted as he began to plate himself some food, gaining himself some strange looks for his choice of meal. It was especially noticeable due to the fact everyone around him had a full greasy plate of food.

“Mr. Potter!” came the squeaky voice of Filius Flitwick as he stood a respectable distance from the young boy.

Harry hastily swallowed his porridge, wiping his face before turning around to see his new Head of House, “Yes Sir?” he was a duelling champion, one of the best, and it made Harry realize he could never judge a book by it’s cover. He must be really powerful to win all the time, or perhaps it was the magic he used instead of his powers. Either way he was fierce, and he was a half-goblin of that Harry was positive. Nobody had said anything, and Harry wasn’t going to either, but it was glaringly obvious. He liked the goblins so that was another reason to like him.

“Headmaster Dumbledore would like to meet you some time this morning, if you feel up to it.” Filius said, an annoyed look on his face, as if he disapproved of the meeting or the wizard himself.

“Why?” Harry asked, eyes hardening, “I don’t believe he is meeting every new student at Hogwarts…” being deliberately obtuse and making his displeasure known. The newspapers had made it known that he wasn’t in fact missing, retracting their previous interview with haste and apologising too. So, it wasn’t because of that, at least not what Dumbledore was revealing publicly anyway.

The Slytherins remained quiet watching the conversation, their breakfasts abandoned. They could feel and sense just how annoyed Harry was at being called out by Dumbledore. It warmed them to him just a little more than he wasn’t a trusting little fool who would blindly follow the old man. None of the Slytherin’s trusted Dumbledore was far as they could throw him.

“He is not, but nonetheless he has asked,” Filius revealed, giving nothing away.

“Then I formally request that you, as my Head of House accompany me to this meeting, since I’m sure it will be about my education.” Harry stated firmly and politely. All the while knowing it wouldn’t be about his education, but with Filius there, hopefully Dumbledore wouldn’t try anything. He was anxious, very much so, he would feel better with someone there.

“While you are at Hogwarts, I am your head of house and your temporary guardian, so it will be my pleasure to accompany you, Mr. Potter as you so wish.” Filius said formally. Very pleased with the boys respectful manner and the way he was conducting himself despite his obvious displeasure and Filius could sense some underlying anxiety. As a Half-goblin, he knew what was going on, his goblin brethren had informed him thusly. He did not completely trust Albus Dumbledore, like the rest of his people, and why he wasn’t as close to Dumbledore as some of the other professors were.

“Thank you, Sir, when is this meeting set for?” Harry asked, relaxing a little.

“When you have finished your breakfast,” Filius informed him, “We shall go together.”

“Where is the Headmaster’s office?” Harry asked, praying that it wasn’t far.

“Third floor, but if you wish, we can Floo there from the antechamber through there,” Filius pointed towards the antechamber behind the professors table.

“I would be very grateful, yes,” Harry agreed, he’d just taken his potions so it wouldn’t be bad, but he didn’t want to appear exhausted when having to deal with Dumbledore for the first time.

“Then enjoy your breakfast, Mr. Potter, we shall go afterwards, there is no rush.” Filius added, making it clear that the child should not rush his breakfast for the Headmaster’s sake. It was him wishing for the meeting so he could wait until Harry was more than ready. He was rather worried that Harry was evidently finding it difficult to get to his destinations, just how bad was the abuse? Which had only been implied by the goblins, he’d never been given full details. He felt it was something he would need in order to take good care of his student.

“Thank you, Sir,” Harry said, turning back around, “I was warned he’d do this, but I didn’t think it would be so soon,” he grumbled in discontent.

“What do you think he wants?” Flint grunted from farther down the table, making it clear everyone had been listening.

“Probably to know who my betrothed is, to start with,” Harry sighed, shaking his head, as he picked at the fruit and eating it. “The rest I can only guess at.”

Flint nodded, he was curious too, but not enough to ask. Not that he would in public, it wasn’t the sort of place you reveal information.

“You know you don’t need to tell him anything, right, Potter?” Draco said, “If he tries anything you can sue him, or report him to the board of directors for impropriety, my father is on the board and he’d make sure the claim is head. We Malfoy’s always help those who need it, especially family.” As always bragging about his name, his family and his father in a single sentence. He was proud of his family after all.

“Family?” Harry queried, seems like they were coming out of the woodwork.

“My mother, she was a Black until she married my father,” Draco explained, warming to Harry after learning that his grandmother was Dorea Black. Someone his mother spoke most fondly off, and who had been very upset when she passed. She’d been young at the time of course, but she had really loved her. “Narcissa Black, cousins very distantly, but still family nonetheless.” And family meant everything to the likes of Black and Malfoy’s since the families were so small.

“Oh,” Harry said, giving a short nod of agreement. He had the family tree hung up back home in his bedroom, he had no immediate family, but he hadn’t really thought anyone less ‘immediate’ would care for family so distantly related.

Hardly surprising when his bloody own relatives had treated him as they did.

“Just let me know if he is improper,” Draco continued on, “We will go through the proper channels,”

Harry grinned, “I suspect he wouldn’t see something like that coming,” especially considering he’d left him with Muggles, he’d expect him to be completely ignorant. Well, sucks for him, since he wasn’t ignorant anymore and he never would be again.

“I like you, Potter,” Draco declared with a wicked smirk of his own, eyes gleaming deviously.

“Thanks, Malfoy,” Harry said dryly, “Couldn’t live without your approval,”

Draco surprisingly laughed, before going back to eating his breakfast.

“I can’t eat anymore,” Harry groaned, not at the food, but knowing what was inevitably coming.

“You realize you don’t need to go to that meeting, don’t you, Potter?” Flint stated seriously, “Get your legal guardian to stand in your stead,”

“Yeah, only problem…I don’t want him knowing who my legal guardian is,” Harry stated in annoyance, “I’m stuck in a hard place with no way out…short of pissing him off and he will just keep badgering me.”

Flint’s eyebrows rose, biting his tongue, now who the hell had become Harry Potter’s legal guardian? His eyes wandered to the ring…his Betrothed’s Head of House, it was possible he supposed, not done often, but did that mean his betrothed was younger than him or older? He was now more confident in his assessment that most of the younger Slytherin’s knew, there was no dying curiosity or anything in their gazes.

“Then let him, he legally doesn’t have a leg to stand on, he’s your Headmaster, not your magical guardian,” Flint stated seriously.

“Not anymore,” Harry said, bearing his teeth green eyes gleaming viciously behind his glasses.

That had everyone staring at each other in surprise, Dumbledore had at one point been Harry’s magical guardian? What had he done to gain Harry’s ire? The look on his face…he hated Dumbledore passionately.

Harry winced, as pain flared in his scar, it took everything in him not to react. Not to touch his scar, he didn’t want to bring attention to it. What the hell had that been? Was someone trying to get into his mind? No, it was nothing like that, his scar had literally just seared as if someone had pressed a hot poker to it.

Up at the professors table, Quirrell finally removed his gaze Dumbledore having been talking to him when he was asked a question. Aware of the conversation at the Slytherin table, having been listening in on it, as per his Master’s orders. He could feel his Lord’s curiosity, and felt apprehensive over it but didn’t voice it. He would ask when they were alone and the Dark Lord was in a good mood, but he was doubtful he’d get an answer.

Dumbledore kept trying to catch Harry’s eye confused as to why he was sitting with the Slytherins, which didn’t bode well for him. He had urged Ronald Weasley to befriend the child, to give him someone within the magical community someone he could trust.

Severus however, watched them with confused distaste, as if he couldn’t figure out just what to think or do with this latest…event. He was very conflicted, the boy looked eight/nine years old not eleven, he carried himself with the same confidence as Lily, and apparently had none of his father’s prejudice…he didn’t want to like the boy but so far what he’d seen…he did. Too much of Lily and too little of James Potter, it made his life exceeding difficult.

-------0

Dumbledore mentally prepared himself for the oncoming conversation, still very much confused about everything that had happened in these past weeks. Things he hadn’t seen coming in all his preparations, every step he took to ensure it went smoothly…somehow it still went off the rails in a spectacularly bad fashion. Nothing had worked out as it should have done. The boy hadn’t befriended Mr. Weasley, had not gone into Gryffindor, as he had coached both Hagrid and Ronald into instilling in the child without them being aware of that fact.

He was caught off guard when Filius and Harry emerged through the Floo network and into his office. He quickly put a pleasant smile on his face, “Thank you, Filius, for escorting young Harry to see me,” Albus said, watching the youngster, who looked around the room with barely a hint of awe or fascination on his face. Not the usual reaction he received when one saw his office which was disappointing.

“As Mr. Potter’s Head of House, I shall be staying for this meeting,” Filius answered, emphasising ‘Mr. Potter’ not liking the familiarity he was taking with his young Raven. Nor did Harry judging by the way he had stiffened upon Dumbledore’s words. Harry definitely did not like Albus Dumbledore, not that Filius could blame him really.

“There is no need, Filius, I’m sure you have last minute things that require your attention more,” Albus said kindly, “I wouldn’t like to keep you. I won’t keep Harry too long, never fear,”

“It is not my request, Albus,” Filius said politely, remaining standing waiting for the go ahead to sit down.

“Harry? Do you require someone here? I’m sure you wouldn’t mind Filius getting on with his work it is important after all,” Albus said, in an almost chiding manner.

“I haven’t given you leave to use my first name, Headmaster Dumbledore, so please do not address me so informally.” Harry said firmly but politely even if he didn’t feel it. Keeping Corvus’ instructions ringing in his ears so that he didn’t mess up. “I would very much prefer that my Head of House be here for the meeting and any others held in future…if such a incident occurs, which I doubt will be all too often, I don’t intend to get into trouble.”

Albus stared stunned, “Please, sit, can I get you anything to drink?” he said automatically, reeling over what had just been said. He sounded like a Pureblood raised wizard, not the Muggle raised boy he had prepared himself for. He would need to revaluate everything. He couldn’t have changed so much in the short time he knew about the magical world surely?

“No thank you,” Harry replied, not trusting Dumbledore the slightest, even though he had his ring on that would tell him if anything was in any drink he went to consume. Sliding into his seat with grace, the office was quite gaudy in colour but with so many books he almost wished he could browse over.

“Not for me either, Albus,” Filius said, getting himself comfortable.

“May I ask why you’ve called me here, Headmaster? Am I in trouble? Has there been a mistake with my dorm?” making it clear without stating it outright he wanted to only ever speak about schooling with the old man and nothing else. “It can’t be my school fees since they were paid just after I was born.” Which was true, seven years of tuition had been transferred to the Hogwarts vaults near enough eleven years ago,

Albus swallowed, definitely unprepared for this, “You are most assuredly not in trouble, Mr. Potter,” treating him like any other student wasn’t what Albus had wished. “There has been no mistake and definitely nothing concerning your tuition.”

“I see,” Harry said, staring expectantly at him, “Then what…?” he purposely trailed off, his anxiety beginning to fade away into nothingness. He could do this, he had nothing to be afraid of and he had someone on his side. So far Professor Flitwick hadn’t let him down, he was warming to him.

“Are you aware that I was at one point your magical guardian, Mr. Potter?” Albus asked, seeing this might be the only way.

Harry’s face closed of off any emotion whatsoever, green eyes blazing a little showing just how pissed off he was. clenching his hands into fists, thankfully only Filius saw this, Albus was too busy with his heart sinking upon seeing Harry’s initial reaction. “I’m aware,” he said tightly.

“Due to my…duties and advanced age, I decided that you’d be better raised with your aunt and uncle and cousin you’d be able to grow up with being the same age,” Albus informed him, “I wanted you raised up away from all the unpleasantness of the magical world, as I’m sure you’ve seen so far…it would have been worse to endure as a child.”

“I see,” Harry replied once again, staring straight ahead, posture relaxed and calm, face blank, despite how internally coiled he was.

“In case of any incidents to whom does the school get in contact with as your next of kin?” Albus asked, “I’m afraid it is blank, since it changed after your admittance was accepted.” After Harry had signed the letter to accept his place there.

“If something happens then Professor Flitwick would be charged with my care, is that not the case?” Harry questioned, so this was what he was playing at. He wished he could say he was surprised, but he really wasn’t. However, he was as Corvus said, sneaky as hell in getting what he wanted.

“It can,” Filius intervened before Albus could open his mouth and spout out a load of lies. Judging by the minute flash of irritation on his face, he most definitely had been about to do so.

“Then that’s it sorted,” Harry answered, “Please put Professor Flitwick down as my next of kin,” like he’d sell out Corvus, he would never do that, not after all he’d done for him. “If it ever changes I’ll fill out the appropriate paperwork in future.”

“And to where do you wish for your reports and exam results to be sent?” Albus asked.

“I believe that’s done automatically, there is no need to know where I am at the time of their sending.” Harry stated firmly, sneaky, but he knew how the magical world worked thank you, well at least a lot of it. He’d been doing his reading after all. Especially in regards to the school and the Ministry of magic, he wanted to help Corvus after all.

Filius’ lips twitched, two to Harry, Dumbledore nil, it was mesmerising to see the child thwarting Dumbledore’s every attempt to gain information.

The boy was smarter than he anticipated, well adept in wizarding policies that he definitely hadn’t foreseen. Who on earth was helping him? “You are very knowledgeable, very commendable, I must give thanks to whoever helped turn you into the young man you are,”

“Thank you,” Harry replied, giving a bland smile that didn’t reach his eyes.

Too smart, even complimenting him didn’t get him to lower his guard, he would need to think this through before approaching the young boy again. He had the entire year to work this in his favour, and it had better work, but for right now he was at a loss. “I was very good friends with your parents, I must say I was surprised to hear they had put forth a Betrothal for you. They didn’t believe in them, James found love in your mother without it, in fact the Potters, who were all Gryffindors, all found love naturally. May I ask to whom they betrothed you?”

“You may,” Harry replied.

Albus stared confused, hope brewing within him, “Who?” heart pounding, leaning forward just a tad.

“I said you may ask, I did not promise to reveal that information,” Harry answered, getting vicious satisfaction out of the disgruntled look on Dumbledore’s face. “It’s private information, not something I feel comfortable revealing to someone I only just met. I’m sure you understand the need for safety and secrecy.” He added almost condescendingly but not quite.

Filius’ chest hurt as he refrained from laughing, his cheeks were beginning to ache from keeping his face impassive. Merlin help him, he was very pleased he had remained for this, nobody else would believe this. He knew Severus would get a great deal of amusement from it. Then again, considering who it was…perhaps not, he’d always had a deep hatred for all things Potter. Perhaps Harry would be able to change his opinion.

“May I go? I do wish to acclimatise to Hogwarts before school begins tomorrow,” Harry asked, standing up without waiting for Dumbledore’s permission. He was through being polite, he was being polite enough not to reach over and wring the old fool’s neck where he sat.

“Thank you, Albus,” Filius said, quickly striding to catch up with his fleeing Raven.

-------0

“Morning, Rabastan!” Harry said cheerfully, “I got you these, did you know there were hundreds of House-elves at Hogwarts? They let me make these and your hot chocolate, don’t worry though I didn’t tell them anything, I know they’re bound to Hogwarts and Dumbledore.” After letting Corvus and Rabastan hug each other in greeting.

Rabastan just smirked at Harry as he sat, he was becoming more and more talkative each visit. His father was barely able to get a word in edgewise for at least half an hour when he first came in. “Thank you,” he said coherently, accepting the offerings from Harry, while his father held the box, but it was understandable, Harry couldn’t get out of Hogwarts to shop every week.

“Did you manage to get out without arousing suspicion?” Corvus asked, as they took their seats.

“Yes, I used the spells you taught me,” Harry promised, ones to make sure he wasn’t being tracked and to make himself invisible. “He keeps trying to find out about you guys, he’s rather good at it too.”

“Do we need to be concerned?” Corvus asked, it had perhaps been too much to ask of an eleven year old.

“No,” Harry shook his head, and went on to give a step-by-step of the meeting and things Dumbledore had done that week. Rabastan found something extremely funny because he wouldn’t stop laughing for ages afterwards. Corvus stared in awe at the sight.

“How are your classes?” Corvus asked, seeing as Rabastan wasn’t going to stop any time soon, he didn’t bother to stop the smile spreading across his face at the sight his son made so carefree looking. Squeezing his sons hand, keeping it warmth and giving him grounding stability.

“Well, I got compared to my dad a lot, I transfigured the matchstick into a needle.” Harry said, “Muggle Studies is…weird, she’s teaching us about Shakespeare, I’m not sure of the relevance it has in helping pureblood’s understand Muggles…I mean he’s from the seventeenth century…” genuinely baffled by it.

“They do that the whole year,” Rabastan replied succinctly. “It’s like History of magic, best just to take a book and read something worthwhile.”

“The whole year? On…on Shakespeare?” Harry asked, eyes widening. “But…that’s insane! Do they teach you how to use phones? Electronics? The internet? What the Muggles did during the wars? How dangerous they can be? Especially regarding things they don’t understand and can’t have?” he would need to find out a way to rectify that, surely things had changed since Rabastan was at Hogwarts?

Considering the way both Corvus and Rabastan stared at him they had no clue as to what he was talking about.

“That’s…” Harry swallowed thickly, “Disappointing, so two dud classes? Just perfect, Hogwarts is turning out to be a genuine let-down.” how did you complain about classes anyway? Something else to find out about.

“Two don’t make the entirety of the experience at Hogwarts,” Corvus said quietly, sensing something else.

“Charms was great, I like Professor Flitwick, Defence was alright, but potions…” Harry said, becoming subdued. “I don’t think I’m going to enjoy that class much.”

“What happened?” Corvus demanded, “And why haven’t you said anything?” disappointed that Harry hadn’t said anything in their nightly talks.

“I don’t think Professor Snape likes me very much, in fact I’d go so far as to say he loathes the ground I walk on.” Harry revealed, “When I answered his questions correctly during class…he looked ready to murder me, and took points off me being ‘cheeky and disrespectful’ but I wasn’t…I really wasn’t.”

“He hates your father, not you, plus, he’s one of us,” Rabastan revealed honestly, “You’ll need to get used to those sorts of reactions from the Dark Lord’s faithful followers.” That and their desire to kill him.

“Oh,” Harry murmured, well, that explained it then. Which meant no matter what he did…potions was going to be impossible for the next seven years. He liked it, but only as so much as he liked Transfiguration, Ancient Runes and Charms were so far his definite favourite.

Corvus was inwardly seething, he’d get the full story out of Harry soon, then he would visit Snape and make him regret one snarky little word to Harry. He was his, and nobody was going to make him feel bad. A Lestrange in all but blood or name.

During this past week, Harry had found himself nearly passing out trying to get to the Astronomy tower to get to class, when Corvus had heard that he’d almost pulled Harry out. Even after leaving fifteen minutes early, to get there before midnight, thank Merlin it was only once a week. He did contemplate getting in touch with Flitwick to reveal what was really happening so give Harry added strength and someone to look out for him when he could not. It would make him feel better about leaving him to Dumbledore’s mercies.

“And your scar?” Corvus asked, aware of it hurting, it concerned him deeply how it was beginning to hurt just after he begun Hogwarts…where Dumbledore was.

Rabastan’s eyes narrowed in on them, realizing he was missing something, a vital piece of information.

“It’s weird, it keeps burning up,” Harry confessed, “It’s random.”

“So no common denominators?” Corvus asked, frowning, perhaps he needed to see the memories and see if he could see for himself what the common denominators were. He would ask his son if his mark was acting up even slightly, it would be a good indication, since the mark was a direct link to him.

Harry shook his head, “None that I can think of, different places, different times, even once when I was alone in my dorm…I think I dozed off and it woke me up,” or it could have been the potions wearing off.

Rabastan’s eyes widened when he realized the implications, of course, he’d never believed the Dark Lord was gone. Hope begun to bloom in him, if the Dark Lord returned…perhaps his life wasn’t going to be wasted away in here. What were the chances though? Could it really be the Dark Lord? What if it was just something Dumbledore was up to in order to push Harry firmly into his camp? He’ll be desperate, with Harry making it clear he didn’t want anything to do with him. In the most spectacular fashion, just thinking about it amused him. He clung onto the feeling knowing the Dementors would try to claim the feelings when he returned to his cell.

“I received a missive from the Ministry today, they’ve set a wizengamot meeting, unfortunately it is set for Saturday, through the time I usually come.” Corvus revealed, saddened he wouldn’t see his son. He refused to push it back and wait longer, he wanted to see his sons freed too much for that. “I will miss it, but I’ll be sure to send a box to Harry so he can bring your usual gift box.”

“Next Saturday?” Harry asked, he didn’t normally come alone, he wasn’t sure how he felt about that. Rabastan wasn’t so short with him anymore…but he still got a little down and grumpy. Corvus knew how to deal with it, but he didn’t.

“Yes,” Corvus nodded in confirmation. “You’ll be fine,” he reassured the boy, sensing his trepidation, he knew his son was rather…short sometimes with Harry. Much to his displeasure, but it was becoming less frequent.

“We have a flying lesson next week, our first one, I’ve never been on a broom before…” Harry said, continuing their talk. Not wishing to sully their visit with things that couldn’t be changed. Corvus and Rabastan were both in good moods, he wanted to preserve that.

“You’ll do fine, be confident, the broom can sense fear,” Rabastan reassured him, lips twitching remembering his own first time on a broom. Of course, he had been a lot younger than eleven, but the same sentiment still applied.

Harry nodded, taking in the information and storing it away, “No fear, be confident,” he murmured, genuinely apprehensive about being on a broomstick.

“Is there anything else you wish to know about Sirius Black? Has the information I provided you with been enough?” Corvus asked after a moments lull in conversation.

Rabastan snorted derisively, “Sirius Black is definitely not a Death Eater, he wouldn’t have joined us, not even if we were the last lot standing and he had no choice.” He still wholeheartedly believed that.

“Evidence to the contrary would dispel that notion,” Corvus pointed out, “He was found at the scene laughing, and did agree that he was to blame for what happened.” he’d grilled Fudge himself to get Harry that information. “Although the fact he wasn’t given a trial does irk me somewhat, and is rather suspicious.” He was a pureblood not granted a trial, but his sons had suffered the same fate. They all had the rights to a damn individual trial, or a trial full stop.

The justice system needed a serious overhaul.

“And I’m telling you, he isn’t a Death Eater, he’d rather kill himself,” Rabastan stated seriously, even while in Azkaban he made it clear he loathed everyone – who were incidentally all Death Eaters – around him. Finishing the remnants of his hot chocolate, sighing at the warmth exuding around him. He just wished his brother could receive the same treatment, to feel better even for a couple of hours.

Harry removed a book from his pocket, and delved into it, leaving Corvus and Rabastan to talk, as had been the agreement from the get go. He didn’t even blink when as usual the silencing spell went up.

Corvus wouldn’t need to wait to get a clear picture from Harry regarding his potions class, for there was already an owl waiting for him in Lestrange manor from Lord Greengrass expressing concern from what his daughter had told him. Who had heard everything from Susan Bones. Even the Hufflepuff’s were angry over the way Snape had treated Harry and removed the house points even if it let them up the board so they weren’t last.

 

--------0

So what do you think? More show less tell? Or is this way fine? This is the way it's going to go, if people are satisfied with it, some showing, some telling through the conversations Rabastan and Harry have...although I do wish to have Harry reveal something about his childhood that makes Rabastan realise he cares...I just cant think of what or how to begin the conversation :D but I'll figure it out I always do :D Just look at EHTS took sixty chapters but I did it lol! what parts do you wish to see rather than be told about? The Troll? Some Voldemort scenes? Ministry? or would you prefer to see them spoken about instead? Will Harry be offered to be the youngest seeker and accept or decline due to his health or will he not even be in that position - bear in mind it wont be the same as it was in the book I like making things different as I said - and since Draco and Harry aren't enemies it makes sense that it wont be happening! so Norbert what will happen to it? will Hagrid's cabin burn down? Will Harry find the mirror? see something dear to him? will Corvus go nuts when he finds out? Will he find out? What about Severus? Can he change or is the damage already been done? hmm what else is important in the first year that's sometimes overlooked...I'll need to look online don't want to forget anything! :D R&R please! I hope this hasn't been a disappointment truly, its why I was apprehensive with the way I'm going with it, using the talks between Rabastan to tell instead of show what's happening at the school in Harry's views.

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 14

Severus sighed softly as he made his way up from his private potions lab, having finished yet another batch of potions – of various kinds – for Corvus Lestrange. He was exhausted, and definitely not looking forward to teaching students tomorrow. The weekend always flew in, and he hated it. Stretching out the kinks in his body, he immediately ambled towards his cabinet which housed his alcohol. Snatching the open bottle of whiskey – the only open bottle – and poured more than a generous amount into a crystal glass, before flinging it back, the burn barely discernible due to the fact he had been drinking it for years.

What he did discern was herbs, strong herbs that weren’t being hidden by the strongness of the drink, something had been slipped into his drink. His eyes widened, but before he could do anything, his body pitched forward as pain begun to assault him. He couldn’t move, even just thinking about it caused the pain to flare even more alarmingly. ‘Dirigentes dolore’ thought Severus, it wasn’t a major debilitating curse, but it was definitely not minor. It also wasn’t fatal as long as he took an antidote, but he didn’t have an antidote brewed, and it took five days to brew that particular potion. In other words he was going to be in a world of pain for almost a week…depending on how long it took for someone to look for him.

Then it dawned on him, it had been in his drink, it was open, he’d already drank from it. Thus, someone had been in his quarters and put that in there. In the past twenty-four hours, at that, since he’d had a drink last night as well, it was his ritual, he had been doing it for as far back as he could afford to buy himself a bottle. Someone had been in here…someone could still be in here.

His thoughts were alarmingly proven correct when he heard the sound of quiet footballs approaching him. A burst of fear consumed him, was he about to be killed like this? After surviving both Dumbledore and Voldemort in a duel game of spying? On the floor, in agony, unable to stand and face his potential killer?

A groan of agony burst out of him as he was swiftly magically propelled onto his favourite seat. Leaning his head against the headrest, he tried and failed to glare at the culprit but he was just too damn surprised to see who it was. Corvus Lestrange. Why? What on earth had caused the old man to approach him with the intent to kill? Pursing his lips, as a fresh wave of agony coursed throughout his body. Refusing to show any more weakness, although if truth be told, it wasn’t as painful as the Cruciatus Curse, but it wasn’t far off.

The urge to ask why was strong, but Severus was too prideful to do such a thing, at least at the moment. Although, even if he had opened his mouth, nothing but a scream would rip out, there was no way he’d be able to ask anything. His eyes slipped shut as he heard shuffling, opening one eye, he noticed that Corvus had moved a seat across from him and sat down, looking for all the world, if he was coming for an amical visit. What the hell had he done to irritate Corvus Lestrange? One of the most dangerous wizards in the magical world? And he was dangerous, the magical population didn’t know the half of it.

“You are far from an unobservant wizard, Severus, and I must say I am disappointed in your behaviour,” Corvus said, his voice cold and harsh. “What kind of wizard thinks its perfectly alright to bully a sick eleven-year-old boy? Using his parents against him and making Hogwarts intolerable for him?” he didn’t care for the Potters’ but at the end of the day he refrained from saying anything about that to Harry.

Confusion settled deeply within Severus, at both remarks, why on earth would Corvus Lestrange care about his treatment of Harry Potter? It was the whole purpose of doing so, in order to keep Dumbledore happy and his spying duties unencumbered for when the Dark Lord inevitably returned. If anything the Death Eaters should be quite happy in his actions, wasn’t it the reasons the children of Death Eaters were keeping a close eye on the boy? The sick remark did worry him, he did look like he was recovering from a long illness, presumably muggle in nature.

“I know James Potter bullied you, but really, Severus? Taking it out on his son? A boy who doesn’t even remember his parents or care?” Corvus said derisively, “I should kill you really, but unfortunately I don’t trust anyone else to make the potions Harry requires.”

Severus despite the pain inhaled sharply, “No,” he rasped out, it wasn’t possible. Those potions he’d been making were for Harry? No, no, it wasn’t possible, that was…those potions were for someone severely abused, there was no mistaken really just why these potions were needed. Again, why would Corvus Lestrange be helping Harry? Nothing made sense anymore, and he didn’t like it at all.

“You and I need to talk, but if you try anything I will kill you, nod if you understand,” Corvus stated steely, black eyes flashing dangerously into similar black ones. Both of them aware that they were dealing with a dangerous foe, and acting like predators to ensure they end up with the upper hand. As an added measure, Corvus muttered “Accio!” snatching Severus’ wand from his person, he wasn’t taking any chances when it came to this wizard, he was smart, crafty, created his own spells and potions, it was just a shame he and Harry wouldn’t get on. Harry could have learned a lot from Severus, perhaps enabled him to think outside the box more. Which he was already doing, of course, but all the help would just ensure to give Harry that added push.

No matter, he would ensure Harry received an education that would help him come into his own as a powerful wizard.

Severus’ eyes flashed angrily before he reluctantly nodded, moaning in pain, Merlin help him, he hadn’t endured such pain for a decade now. His body wasn’t used to it anymore, Merlin help him when the Dark Lord returned…for he would honestly wonder if he’d survive the Cruciatus Curse being cast upon his person multiple times while proving his ‘loyalty’ to the wizard.

Corvus leaned back into the seat, levitating the antidote to the Severus, waiting impatiently for him to grasp a hold of it and drink it down. Which wasn’t easy, he had a meeting in less than an hour so he had to have this dealt with as soon as possible. His gaze never wavered from Severus, just because he had his wand…didn’t mean he was entirely safe after all.

Severus panted a little as the pain begun to recede after taking the potion, which he knew due to the colour, smell and consistency was indeed the antidote. Shaken to the core at the suddenness of the attack and how defenceless he’d been so easily rendered. This was supposed to be his safe heaven, to be attacked here made him feel vulnerable. Vulnerable in a way he hadn’t ever felt since he was sixteen years old and he hated it. Blinking trying to rid himself off the sweat beating around his eyes, he reluctantly swiped his forehead and face. He hadn’t wanted to take his eyes of Corvus for a second, but had to concede that if he wanted him dead…he would have already been killed.

“Now…let’s make it clear, you are not to upset Harry in any way, whatsoever, is that understood?” Corvus stated, wand casually aimed in Severus’ direction.

Severus pursed his lips, “I cannot promise that,” he admitted, not without Dumbledore becoming aware of someone at play he didn’t know about.

“Then I will kill you, promise solved,” Corvus’ voice changed immediately upon hearing Severus’ words fury thrumming through him.

“It was Dumbledore’s demands that I keep my position as a spy, he thinks I am firmly on the light side, despite the Dark Lord being gone… temporarily as it is…I must continue my last order. If I decided to leave now, I believe the Dark Lord would be furious.” Severus bit out angrily, he was walking a knife edge at the moment.

Corvus’ lips curled in disgust, “Let me get this straight, he’s egging you on to bully a student?” hissing under his breath in utter disgust. “Don’t tell me it’s because he didn’t get into Gryffindor.”

Severus watched the wizard warily, “I believe his reactions would have been the same regardless of which house he inevitably went into.” He was in a hell of a mood, and when a Lestrange was in a mood…they were even more dangerous than normal. The fact that Corvus knew where Harry was placed already, only a week into Hogwarts alarmed him too.

“And of course you’re all too willing to do it,” Corvus said, disgustedly.

Severus swallowed thickly, deciding against answering that question, “How did you come to be aware of Potter? Let alone have him in your care for the summer?” he had been sending the potions to him consistently, so it was natural to assume Potter had been with Corvus. Which he must have done judging by the fact the potions had gone to Lestrange manor.

Corvus stared at Severus making no effort to hide his anger or disgust, which while Severus tried to hide his emotions, you could literally see the sinking gut happening. “Do you know where Harry spent his childhood? Where he gained every single ailment you’ve been so diligently helping him with?”

Severus refrained from swallowing thickly yet again, “All I know is that Albus sent him somewhere that night, and that he was being looked after.” He had seen Minerva and Albus arguing quite passionately that night upon returning, but about what he wasn’t sure. Albus never revealed where Harry lived, not to anyone, not the Ministry of magic, not Lupin and certainly not him.

“Looked after?” Corvus choked incredulously, “Doesn’t anyone have eyes? He’s a head shorter than others his own age, too thin by far and very easily exhausted.”

Severus winced, he had noticed that too, but he didn’t want to see it, it wouldn’t make his life any easier. However, seeing and hearing this…Severus knew he wasn’t going to be able to go back to living in forced ignorance.

“He was living with his Muggle aunt and Uncle,” Corvus spat out, watching what colour Severus had drain from his face, evidently he was familiar with the family or at the very least…the aunt, the sister. “This is the damage they’d wrought upon the boy!” throwing the copy of the paperwork from Millicent at Severus, who snatched it with ease, despite his rather…nauseated look. “I deduce through your reactions you know at least one of them.”

“I know Petunia, ghastly Muggle, one of the worst…” Severus trailed off when his eyes comprehended what he was seeing so clearly written out on paper. He didn’t even need to convey his utter disgust of the woman that Petunia Dursley nee Evans was. It was written in black and white, and he stared at it his stomach churning rebelliously. He’d loathed the her from the moment he met her.

Suddenly Severus’ eyes blazed with a different kind of anger, one that surprised Corvus immensely.

Corvus watched Severus with avid interest, now why would he suddenly feel so angry on his and Harry’s behalf? What had roused that protective instincts? Was it because he was Lily’s son and he cared about him even just a little because of who his mother was? oh, he knew Severus cared about Lily, which was why he had protested against her death when it became apparent the Dark Lord was going after the Potters. But the anger on his own behalf was unexpected, he looked ready to have steam coming out of his ears.

“Did he know?” Severus asked, eyes still blazing, teeth grinding painfully against each other.

“Thus far I have no definitive proof,” Corvus scowled, that bothered him. “He abandoned the boy on the doorstep after the attack and he was found in the morning. He’s liable either way, since as Harry’s magical guardian he should have checked upon him, as is the law and to ensure he knew of his place in our world. He also had a squib watching out for him, Arabella Figg, but it is not definitive proof,” Not that he’d get arrested for it, one word of how he had decided a family was better of raising him than an old man in Hogwarts they’d all have agreed he did what was best.

“Why haven’t you gone to the Ministry regarding this?” Severus asked perplexed, it was the sort of thing they’d do, in order to take Dumbledore out however temporarily it might be. This was Harry Potter they were talking about, the Ministry might take an exception.

“Why? So he can talk his way out of it? No, if and when I get something to stick I will make sure the Ministry knows.” Corvus replied, lip curling at the fact Dumbledore was once again going free.

“How is his recovery going?” Severus asked guilt and shame coursing through him. Dumbledore had lied to him, told him he was being spoiled, put wood to the embers and made sure Severus would detest the boy before he set foot in Hogwarts. It had worked, he hated him despite his ill health. Or what had seemed to be ill health, he hadn’t jumped to abuse due to his belief that he was being treated well, the clothes he’d come to Hogwarts in just confirmed it in his mind. To leave a magical child with Petunia…if only he’d known. Dumbledore had been forcing him to break his promise, his Vow since the day he had created it and it horrified him. Potter or not, he did not condone child abuse, he wouldn’t wish it upon his worst enemy.

“Slowly, but with the aid of the potions he’s been deemed well enough to come to Hogwarts,” Corvus stated, “You are angry, why? And it’s not just because of the abuse, you’ve probably seen a few cases in your career here.” He wished he had given the wizard Veritaserum so he could trust what he was saying, so he would get to the bottom of the truth.

“Dumbledore has been more than alluding to the case that Mr. Potter has been treated very well in his home.” Severus retorted still seething over what he had learned. “To the entirety of the Hogwarts faculty when they ask.” He refused to admit he had been one of the few to actually asked now and again. He also refused to admit to the vow he had sworn, he couldn’t admit that to a Death Eater, it would only guarantee his death when the Dark Lord returned.

“You will stop, I don’t care what excuse you have to give the old fool, I will not have you marring his time here at Hogwarts. Dumbledore is going to be doing enough for both of you.” Corvus demanded, “If I have to return…it won’t be a mild potion in your whiskey, it will be poison and you will not know what happened.” he threatened and not even being subtle at all.

“I will do as you ask…if you answer a question for me,” Severus stated, negotiating with him, he needed some answers.

“Very well,” Corvus sighed exasperated, knowing what the question was going to be.

“How on earth did you get custody of Mr. Potter? And why?” Severus asked, utterly bewildered, he needed a drink, and right now he wouldn’t trust anything in his cabinet.

“Harry approached me,” Corvus answered, “If you wish for any further understanding you will swear an oath here and now never to repeat or reveal in any matter what we have spoken to at all tonight.” Which he would be swearing anyway, he just wanted to ensure he did so before he revealed everything just in case it blew up in his face.

“I assume you have the paperwork with you?” Severus asked, slightly resigned, there was no way he had come to discuss anything with him tonight without being fully prepared. He had to know what was going on in order to be best able to protect the boy he’d evidently let down so badly. He and Potter might never get along, but he would protect him, as he’d sworn to do, for Lily.

“I do,” Corvus agreed, swiftly removing the documents from his pocket and passing it over, along with a self-inking quill, so that he didn’t have an excuse to move from his seat.

Severus read over the document, making sure he understood it thoroughly and that it wouldn’t interfere with his vow before he signed it deeming it perfectly safe. It just meant he wouldn’t be able to discuss anything regarding what Corvus revealed today, about Harry or anything else.

Severus seemed to slump once it was signed, handing it back over to Corvus, “What are your plans with Potter?” dreading to think really, he felt rather sick and helpless right now. Corvus it seemed had at least Harry’s health in mind, helping him whereas Dumbledore wasn’t even trying. He just seemed worried that Harry wasn’t going to be ‘just like his parents’ and wondering why he wasn’t a Gryffindor of all things.

“We have a contract of our own in place,” Corvus revealed, noticing that Severus was actually worried, which just perplexed him even more. Honestly, what on earth was Severus on? expressing hated and deep seated emotional problems one moment the next he actually look guilty then resigned now he was actually worried again? “No abuse, anything discussed between us can’t be used against the other, and it only lasts four years, until he can officially become Lord Harry James Potter,” leaving all aspects of the betrothed.

“Well, that’s a relief,” Severus whispered under his breath, the boy was smart at the very least. “But why?” he pressed, he just didn’t understand why someone so faithful to the Dark Lord would aid the boy responsible – or thought he was – for his downfall? Nobody was sure what happened that night, not even Dumbledore, if he had any ideas he was keeping them to himself.

“Tell me, Severus, if you had a way out of your situation when you were eleven, wouldn’t you have taken it? Given the state of the abuse Harry endured…you don’t even know the half of it.” Corvus stated seriously. Severus hadn’t endured broken bones, or what it was like to be shoved into a cupboard, and mentally and emotionally abused for ten years.

“And somehow he came to you?” Severus asked incredulously, ignoring the implication that Corvus knew about his own childhood.

“It shouldn’t surprise you, Dorea and I go way back, we were good friends, I am doing this for her, we both benefit from this arrangement.” Corvus revealed simply. “My allegiance doesn’t come into this, Harry is well aware of my family’s reputation as well as what my sons were accused of doing and where our allegiances lie. Given what Dumbledore has done…Harry is not going to become the light side Saviour everyone wants…I suspect he will remain neutral and I am pleased with this.” All very true, in the grand scheme of things.

Severus stared at Corvus, having to concede he had a good point, given his childhood, why on earth would Harry fight for Muggles and their rights? Dumbledore had done it again…Severus realized his heart sinking, he’d created a dark wizard through his inactions and perhaps actions depending on what he truly did all those years ago with the Dark Lord. Or someone much worse than just a mere Dark Wizard. He had definitely ignored the signs of his abuse but he couldn’t blame him, for he hadn’t directly gone to him. “You don’t suspect he might turn evil? Or the Ministry’s version of a evil wizard at any rate,” sounding exasperated just thinking on the Ministry and their stupidity. In other words someone who would become another Dark Lord, evil, without conscience. There was a difference between a dark and evil wizard in his mind after all. He was dark, not evil after all.

“I do believe that he has been…saved in time.” Corvus confessed, “I don’t think he will go down a dark and lonely path…having someone to trust and rely on can make all the difference.” It seemed perhaps he’d have an ally in Severus at least.

“I hope so,” Severus confessed, he would need to follow Harry down that path, and whether he liked the boy or not, he did not want to see Lily’s son become someone who needed to be put down. They already had the Dark Lord Voldemort to deal with without having another one on their hands. Perhaps he should be thanking Corvus for his actions…but only time would tell if he was going to live up to his word. “I assume you have some things planned for the Dursley’s?” there was no way Corvus was going to let Muggles away with harming a wizard, a Potter or not.

“You know me well,” Corvus stated, revealing nothing else.

Severus nodded, so he wouldn’t be surprised if anything came up in the news of their disappearance or some such. “Don’t go easy on them,” he declared.

Corvus just smirked, eyes flashing hungrily, oh, he definitely wasn’t going easy on them. In fact Marge Dursley was the subject of his recent bout of revenge. She was going to lose everything, she deserved it in his opinion. Everyone who knew the truth seemed to find themselves saying the same thing.

“You cannot keep the fact you’re Potter’s magical guardian a secret forever, Dumbledore will find out,” Severus cautioned him, Dumbledore wouldn’t give up.

“Perhaps,” Corvus conceded, hopefully not for a long time. Plus, he technically wasn’t Harry’s magical guardian but did take care of him only because of the magical contract and the fact Harry had nowhere else to go. When the betrothal was done, Harry would be officially emancipated. He was strictly speaking emancipated right now, and legally able to make his own decisions but that wouldn’t be anyone’s business. Certainly not Severus’ whether he could speak about it or not, he did not trust anyone easily.

In time he might prove trustworthy, but he wasn’t stupid enough to trust a spy with every piece of information when you didn’t know exactly where his loyalties lay.

“Should I just deliver the potions to Potter?” Severus questioned.

“No, continue to send them to me, I am making sure he takes the correct amount each day,” Corvus instructed him, he got only what he needed each day, and the empty vials were placed back in the box. He received them back, and thus, he knew Harry was taking them and when he was taking them. “I trust you’ll take heed of my warning?” standing abruptly.

“Yes,” Severus replied seriously, knowing that Corvus would stick to his word if he didn’t.

“Good,” Corvus revealed, making his way to the fireplace, stepping into the Floo, he placed Severus’ wand on the mantel before using the Floo network never taking his eyes of the wizard.

To Severus’ surprise he wasn’t using the Floo to return to Lestrange manor. He’d used it to go to Filius’ office here at Hogwarts.

Lurching forward he grasped a hold of his wand, still shaken to the core, as he swiftly and eagerly locked his Floo network so nobody could get into his rooms. Paranoid to the extreme, he was going to check his wards then he was heading to the pub, he needed some serious drink and he refused to drink anything in his cupboard. He was going to throw them all out for good measure.

This had turned out to be the worst Sunday he’d ever experienced in a decade.

He did not want a repeat performance.

Instead of doing any of that, he slumped back onto his seat, staring at his hands in disbelief, they were shaking. He’d stood before the Dark Lord without so much as flinching, yet here he sat shaking at a visit from Corvus Lestrange? Adrenaline that’s all it was, due to the unexpectedness of it.

It was also partly rage for the lies he’d been fed for the past decade.

The copy of the diagnosis of Harry’s injuries was absent, Lestrange must have taken it with him without him noticing.

The list of injuries though…with that his stomach lurched, finally rebelling and Severus raced through to his bathroom and emptied the contents of his stomach.

-------0

Corvus swiftly stepped through, unsurprised to see Harry there since he had called the meeting after all and informed Harry that his presence would be welcomed. It wasn’t necessary but if he should wish to come then he was more than happy to have him there.

Filius was watching both closely, surprised by the happy greeting the Lord Lestrange was receiving from his young charge. All Ravenclaws were his charges and he took his duties seriously. Harry was more than just thankful to Lord Lestrange for helping him that was glaringly obvious. He was somewhat appeased and happy that Corvus gave Harry a once over with just a hint of concern on his face, as if he was checking to ensure his wellbeing.

“How are you faring?” Corvus asked, completely ignoring Filius for the moment, which would be considered rude but Harry came first and he wanted the boy to know this.

“I’ve taken my potions and I’m not over exerting myself, I promise,” Harry said dutifully, giving Corvus a big smile unable to help himself. Slipping off his seat, he stared at Corvus wondering if he could…

Corvus seemed to understand as he drew Harry into a hug, Filius wouldn’t be able to reveal anything by the end of the night anyway. He didn’t care if he had to show his…darker side in front of Harry at the end of the day, his protection came first and foremost. The look on Filius face was quite…comical and almost worth it.

“Good, I’m pleased to hear that,” Corvus stated, before releasing Harry, urging him to reclaim his seat. “Mr. Flitwick,” he said giving a curt nod. He wasn’t a child and no longer referred to Flitwick as ‘professor’ and as he wasn’t a Lord, it was his correct title at present.

“Lord Lestrange,” Filius nodded, wary of the wizard, as he had a right to be, but also deeply curious.

“I assume you understand the reason behind my visit?” Corvus said as he took his seat opposite Flitwick and facing him directly.

“I do,” Filius revealed, “As I am sure you are aware of my…ancestry,” there was no way Corvus hadn’t’ looked into him before this meeting.

“Yes, that and the fact the more people aware of what is going on…would be able to help Harry,” Corvus revealed, patting him absently on the shoulder. Pleased he was being silent for the conversation, as was proper. The goblins had probably revealed more than he was aware of to the wizard/goblin.

Harry watched both converse, wondering at the subtle undercurrent knowledge going on, which he was unaware of. He’d ask Corvus later, see if he would tell him.

“If it helps Harry then I am all for it,” Filius replied, as he’d said previous he took his duties very seriously. He didn’t know everything, of course, but he had a feeling by the end of the night he definitely would. Harry was very bright, and was one of the first to get the levitating charm correctly, he was smart, studious and quite frankly from what he’d seen made quite a powerful wizard. There were tells, despite only having Harry here for a week, his ability to get most spells correctly the first time was the most revealing. Along with a girl from Gryffindor, Hermione Granger, why she’d been sorted into Gryffindor he didn’t know she was clearly a Ravenclaw in the making.

“I’m sure you understand the need for secrecy,” Corvus informed him, handing over the same document he had given Severus earlier. This one was a little more limiting due to the fact he was in fact going to reveal everything to Harry’s head of house. Also, the fact he knew more information from the goblins that he definitely didn’t approve of without the aid of a secrecy clause.

Harry didn’t protest, knowing that this was to protect him and his secrets, and it was really to protect him. If everyone found out that he was betrothed to Rabastan he’d be blacklisted by anyone who didn’t like the Lestranges…which was a great many people…and the Ministry and Dumbledore would interfere with his life. Even if they didn’t win it would make his life very uncomfortable. This way he could continue as he was, with his freedom intact and as soon as the four years were up, he’d be ‘emancipated’ and able to look after himself and there was nothing the Ministry could do to deem him unfit to look after himself…not at that age. Eleven they might get away with that but not when he was older. They would be discarding their oldest and Nobelist laws but the fact the Ministry seemed to be outlawing nearly all branches of magic – some which weren’t all that dangerous – they wouldn’t have a problem with it. They wouldn’t care, since he was ‘Harry Potter’ and they’d already mapped out his life because of something that happened when he was a baby. Look at the reactions everyone had to his sorting, even his own fellow Ravenclaws commented their surprise that he was with them and not Gryffindor. The Patil girl had been the kindest about it as a matter of fact. Maybe because she was going through something similar, with her twin sister being a Gryffindor and all.

Filius couldn’t say he was surprised by the goblin enacted silencing contract, which was very accurately worded if he didn’t say so himself. He read it over carefully and signed it, this was all for Harry after all. Barely seconds after signing it another parchment was handed over, a detailed diagnosis of Harry’s injuries. This was when he began to comprehend the severity, “A healer has decreed Harry well enough to attend Hogwarts?” he wished to know.

“Millicent Flint has given him the all clear to attend Hogwarts, but the moment that changes he will be pulled out for the sake of his health.” Corvus revealed seriously.

Filius nodded, completely understanding, the poor child, he’d been through hell, it was little wonder he struggled to get to classes so often.

“I am sticking to the regimen I promise,” Harry said, not really all that worried about being pulled from Hogwarts. This far it had proven to be a big disappointment. His classes weren’t all that good, and he wasn’t able to take his favourite subject until third year, Ancient Runes, so he was self-studying. Charms and Ancient Runes were so far his favourite branches of magic.

“I am pleased to hear that,” Corvus said softly, “But your health comes before all else, even your education, which can easily be done at home.” He was very pleased Harry thought of Lestrange Manor as home, warmth had effused him when he had seen the word clearly written that day Harry had written to him.

Harry nodded he’d never disagree with that one, not when someone cared. It was all he had wanted after all.

“Is there anything Harry requires for this regimen that I may provide to make things easier?” Filius queried, stomach churning unpleasantly at the thought of living through those injuries for years and as a child. Regardless of what kind of wizard Lestrange was…he had helped a child in need and that warmed him considerably towards the wizard. He knew there was some sort of contract between them that would prevent any…manipulations on Corvus’ part. Which he had been told about in a roundabout way. He hadn’t been aware that it was Corvus Lestrange though, just that it was a wizard of wealthy standing behind him.

“I would like it if he could be aided to his Astronomy class once a week, he almost passed out on his way there,” Corvus said, lips pursed just thinking about it. He didn’t like the thought of Harry ending up hurt and he be unable to be there.

“That is very doable,” Filius agreed immediately.

“Harry I believe doesn’t approve of the Muggle studies class, given that he has grown up in the Muggle world, the class is entirely redundant and I want it to be removed from his timetable. Instead he will use that hour productively to teach himself something worthy of his time.” Corvus ordered, his lip curling just mentioning the Muggle world.

“Ah, of course, I shall correct the oversight as soon as possible,” Filius agreed, it seemed silly that he would be taking it.

“My thanks,” Corvus replied, giving a curt nod.

“May I ask why the Dursley’s haven’t been brought up on charges of child abuse?” Filius asked disapproval lining his face.

“I don’t want the magical world to find out…” it was Harry who spoke, a vulnerable note creeping into his voice.

Corvus glanced at Harry in concealed surprise, he hadn’t sounded like that at all when they were discussing the Dursley’s. Admiration bloomed, he was manipulating Filius to take his side without him getting to know just what they were planning and doing to the Dursley’s. He was putting his little lessons to good use, to add to it he pressed a reassuring hand on Harry’s shoulder giving Filius a look that warned him to back off.

Predictably Filius did, a look of pained understanding on his face, unable to see through the mask that Harry had erected. Filius wasn’t seeing Harry as the little cunning Slytherin he could be, simply unable to due to all Harry had suffered. Which should have made it more than clear, Harry had done what he had to in order to survive the Dursley’s, using all manners of masks in order to survive. Without desperation clouding him, he was truly coming into his own.

“But they must pay for what they did,” Filius couldn’t help but blurt out, enraged that they would get away with harming a child so horrendously. They didn’t deserve to be free for a single more day, the world should know what they did, and they should pay.

Harry hunched in on himself, “I…maybe…maybe one day?” Harry said, trembling subtly, clearly unable to stand the way the conversation was going. He hated deceiving Professor Flitwick…but he honestly didn’t think he would approve of what he wanted done to the Dursley’s. He wanted them to suffer then die painfully, what was wrong with that? More importantly he wanted to see it…them going to prison wouldn’t let him see them die so he could get revenge for what they did to him. Wanted them to see their son suffering unimaginable pain. Corvus said his desire to see them suffer was normal after all he’d been through.

“I am making their lives as uncomfortable as I am able, they have been sued for everything they took from Harry,” Corvus added, “They are currently homeless I believe, not the suffering of prison but what can one do?”

Filius eyed Corvus speculatively, wondering if he was telling the truth, where Lestrange was concerned he wouldn’t be surprised if there was more to it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see the full picture only because he couldn’t see Harry for who he truly was. Thusly he was only gaining half a picture of the puzzle.

“I assume you’re aware of whom Harry is betrothed?” Corvus changed the subject seeing that Filius was cottoning on to what he was doing, not that he cared and he doubted Filius did either.

“I do now,” Filius revealed, Rabastan Lestrange, Corvus did not have a ring upon his finger, and only one of his sons had been unmarried. He also was aware of the friendship between Corvus and Dorea, he may have been a young professor back then, and intending on pursing his dreams of a duelling champion but he did have eyes. Due to the contract, he deduced that Harry was aware of everything as well, and the reputation that Rabastan Lestrange had within the magical community.

Less than what he had assumed, Corvus realised, perhaps the goblins were a bit more closed mouthed to each other than he thought. No matter, he had intended on telling Filius a great deal, not everything naturally. “Dorea and I created a contract when we were young, just as I had taken up the mantel of Lord Lestrange. It is most fortuitous that we did. It has aided Harry in escaping the Dursley’s and Dumbledore’s neglect as his magical guardian.”

Filius clenched his hands into fists, eyes gleaming darkly, now that explained fully Harry’s distaste of Dumbledore. Why he had reacted to the question Dumbledore had asked him at that meeting. He had realized there was animosity there, but he hadn’t understood the depth of it. Another glance at the diagnosis well, it was hardly rocket science. He also remembered Dumbledore informing them that Harry was well cared for and had everything he desired. He had lied, and to the extent which he lied was at that the expense of a near death of a child.

No wonder they were so vigilantly silent on the matter. He knew the control Dumbledore could and would wield. With Lestrange’s shaky reputation in the Ministry…well, it might not end in their favour.

“I assume he visits him on Saturdays?” Filius questioned, already knowing the answer, he had seen that Harry had permission to leave Hogwarts grounds on those days by orders of the Ministry of magic.

“Not on his own,” Corvus assured him, or as assuring as he could be.

“Azkaban is no place for a child,” Filius said in disapproval.

“It’s no place for a human,” Harry corrected him, “No matter what anyone has done, they don’t deserve to be surrounded by those things for weeks let alone decades. Prison is supposed to rehabilitate prisoners, not drive them insane. When they get out I bet they always reoffend right? Because the Dementors take everything from them, including their sanity.” He said passionately.

Corvus’ eyes gleamed with pride, he did slot the words away in his mind for the meeting next week. It was a good speech, one that just might get through to the wizengamot.

Filius was clearly taken aback by the words that had come from Harry’s mouth, and didn’t know how to proceed.

“Is there anything else?” Corvus queried.

“I do not believe so, unless there is anything else I can do to aid Harry’s recovery or make Hogwarts easier for him?” Filius latched onto the change of subject, his mind dwelling on what Harry had said.

“Limit the contact Dumbledore has with Harry, inform me immediately if he is hurt or hospitalised, I am aware you’ve become his next of kin while he’s at Hogwarts.” Corvus revealed, the information had surprised him and made him admire Harry all the more that he was able to run rings around Dumbledore at such a young age. He was doing so with the full backing of the law and regulations, his reading had turned out to be a very good thing indeed. “Inform me of his progress in classes, and if he is failing any classes…which I doubt he’s very capable and determined.” He added solely for Harry’s benefit so he didn’t assume that he would think for a moment that Harry would fail. In his opinion you only fail if you don’t try.

Harry puffed up, proud that Corvus thought so highly of him.

“Of course, that is a given,” Filius agreed, it was clear Corvus was good for Harry, caring and encouraging, he had seen a side to Corvus Lestrange that most others probably didn’t get to see.

“Good,” Corvus stated, nodding firmly, “It’s time for you to return to the tower, you need your rest, especially with classes beginning again tomorrow.”

“Use my fireplace, Mr. Potter,” Filius offered immediately, making a mental note to look through Harry’s timetable in order to see where he could help the child. “Does Mr. Potter have your permission to attend his flying class?” worried that such activities wouldn’t be good for him.

“The first few classes are merely using it a few feet above the ground, short of something catastrophic happening, I don’t think we have anything to fear.” Corvus said thoughtfully, Harry was actually looking forward to it. Worried for sure, only because of the fact he hadn’t been on a broom before, but with a teacher presence he couldn’t see anything happening. “The professor will make sure nothing happens,” if anything did he would be suing Hogwarts for all he could.

“Understood,” Filius agreed getting out of his seat, he handed over a handful of Floo Powder allowing Harry to leave with a quiet goodbye to both of them. It was clear to see the fatigue creeping up on Harry, perhaps Corvus knew Harry better than he thought, since he had suggested it before any visible symptoms of his exhaustion had manifested. “I’m assuming you’d like to use my Floo also?” he doubted Corvus Lestrange wanted to be seen wandering around the school.

“If you do not mind,” Corvus said politely.

“I do hope you do not have any intentions of hurting Mr. Potter,” Filius said, threatening the wizard.

“No, I do not,” Corvus said coolly, “But thank you for expressing concern, Harry doesn’t seem to have much of that in his life. He deserved better of the magical community, no wizard should be left in the hands of Muggles. You can see for yourself what happens…repeatedly. Dumbledore knows of two wizards who went off the rails in a big way due to his…less than desirable life with Muggles and he keeps repeating his mistakes. It’s almost as if he wants history to keep repeating itself.” With that said, Corvus left Filius to chew on that.

------0

“Odd isn’t it?” Padma said, as she read over the newspaper, talking to Harry who was closest to her, and who she spent a great deal of her time with, when she wasn’t with her dorm mates. Honestly, you’d think it was something weird that she was something other than an extension of her twin sister. All because she hadn’t ended up in Gryffindor with her. “Gringotts is the most secure building next to Hogwarts, it shouldn’t have been possible…and the fact nothing was stolen even stranger!”

“Places like that are only as secure as their latest security,” Harry said diplomatically, the vault number though, it was the one that Hagrid had emptied earlier that very same day. The ‘you-know-what’ in vault ‘you-know-which’ something for Dumbledore he’d said. Taking something super-secret from Gringotts with an eleven year old wasn’t smart, he could have been the worst blabbermouth in the history of Hogwarts for all Hagrid knew.

Had Dumbledore wanted him there to see it? that didn’t make much sense…but he would definitely slot it away as a possibility.

“Good point, but nobody has ever done it before,” Padma gushed.

“There’s a first for everything I suppose,” Harry shrugged, “I’m sure the Goblins will find out how it happened and take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Rolling up the newspaper and dismissing the news, it wasn’t worthy of his attention, his classes were.

“I guess,” Padma said, less enthusiastically, the Ravenclaw in her desperate to know how it had been accomplished.

“Potter can I use your paper?” Terry Boot asked.

“Sure,” Harry said, handing it over, noticing that Dumbledore was paying close attention to him once again. Was it just him or did he seem disappointed? He wasn’t a Gryffindor, Dumbledore needed to get over it already. He shrunk down the package he’d received from Corvus. The same happened every week from the pureblood’s more noticeably the Slytherin table, Draco more so than anyone else, his mother seemed to miss him immensely. It was usually sweets Draco received though, he couldn’t eat many sweets, but Corvus had sent him a few books, magazines and a few sweets that didn’t have much sugar.

“Thanks, Potter,” Terry said, opening it up and beginning to avidly read it, the break-in was all anyone could seem to talk about. Well, except he could hear someone reciting information from Quidditch through the ages, Granger, her voice was recognizable now. She always had the need to be heard by everyone, or argue with them too.

“I’m going to head for the first class, I’ll see you later,” Harry said, grabbing his bag ready to head towards the Quidditch pitch where his first class for the day was going to be held. He noticed that the Muggle Studies class was already removed from his timetable, Professor Flitwick had moved fast, it was Sunday he’d spoken to him, and it was now Thursday the 12th of September. Three days had gone by, he didn’t count this morning since there was an entire day left in Thursday and he probably had it corrected last night.

Nobody blinked, they were getting used to Harry leaving quite early.

They noticed he always left early for classes and they usually passed him on their way, usually running to get there in time.

Which wasn’t the case today, as Harry was waiting patiently, sitting on the grass of the Quidditch pitch with an Ancient Runes book in his hand when his other classmates finally got there. Excitement bubbling within everyone, they couldn’t wait to begin learning to ride a broomstick.

“Isn’t that a difficult book?” Padma asked, joining him, Susan too.

“No, I like Ancient Runes,” Harry commented, sliding a bookmark into the book and sliding it into his bag.

“But why read it now? We don’t get Ancient Rune classes until third year,” Susan commented, “You’ll be too advanced by the time they start up and bored too.”

“There’s always more to learn,” Harry shrugged, “Things about Ancient Runes are still being discovered from time to time.”

“Is the book from Ravenclaw common room library?” Susan asked, aware and jealous of the fact that the Ravenclaw’s have their own library.

“Yes, I’m avoiding the books that we might get in classes, but its difficult, since I’m assuming beginner Ancient Runes will be one of them and I’ve already read that one.” Harry commented, and Corvus was helping him by giving him more…obscure books, but ones he’d understand of course, as a beginner.

“Well, what are you all waiting for? come on, hurry up!” was their introduction to Madam Hooch their flying instructor. “Everyone stand by a broomstick, hurry up!” stepping forward, they noticed she had short, grey hair and yellow eyes like a hawk. Harry thought it was absolutely awesome.

There were thirty brooms laid out on the ground, one for each of them, the Hufflepuff’s and Ravenclaws’ stared a bit at their instructor before stepping towards a broomstick.

“Stick out your right hand over your broom,” Madam Hooch called, “And say, Up!”

And true to Corvus’ word, they never went further than a few feet from the ground as for their first flying lesson.

-------0

Saturday as always, came around swiftly, and Harry made his usual plans to leave the grounds, keeping himself invisible so he could exit the grounds without being seen. He used different ways that Corvus had clued him in, so that he could avoid Dumbledore, who was incidentally and not so subtly waiting at the doors of Hogwarts for him to leave. As if he was going to be leaving through the main doors of Hogwarts, with the old man right there.

Corvus wasn’t going to be there, but Harry had a plan…and if he had his way…it would go according to his specifications.

Upon leaving the wards of Hogwarts through the secret passageway, he used the portkey and arrived presently at Azkaban greeted as always by the guards. Who were clearly surprised that Corvus wasn’t there, he always arrived first then waited for him.

“Mr. Potter…” the guard said, clearly dumbfounded, glancing at the time on his watch.

“Lord Lestrange won’t be here today, I request Rodolphus Lestrange to be our Chaperone for this meeting,” Harry commanded, using his best imitation of Corvus’ voice when he didn’t want his orders questioned. Also, when he would absolutely not take no for an answer.

“Wha…” the guard gaped at him, “That cant happen!” his protest indignant.

“Do you suppose I should discard one of the oldest and noblest rules of a Betrothal contract? I cannot visit my Betrothed alone, it is not done.” Harry argued swiftly and with hysterics being calm and centred. “Each meeting requires a Chaperone, and I have named one I want. Now make it happen.”

The guards shared a look clearly stuck on what to do, technically they supposed Potter had a point.

“We cannot risk visitors lives by allowing you to remain alone with two convicts, especially underage,” the second guard said with more confidence than the first.

“If you think either one are a danger to me you’re deluded they can barely stand let alone harm anyone.” Harry said dryly, “I do not wish to delay my meeting any more than it already will be. Please see to it that Rodolphus Lestrange is escorted into the room, immediately.” Standing tall for himself refusing to take no for an answer, he could do this. He hoped.

“We…uh,” the second guard finally losing his voice, he might have been there longer, and older than the first guard, but apparently he couldn’t find a way to argue how bad an idea it was.

“Am I or not supposed to have a Chaperone with me during my meetings with my Betrothed?” Harry decided simply.

“Yes Sir,” the first guard said quietly.

“Am I or not allowed to pick my own Chaperone?” Harry added.

“Yes Sir,” came again.

“Is it not proper for the Chaperone to be family?” Harry continued.

“Yes Sir,” once more.

“Rodolphus and Rabastan are not a danger to anyone, they do not have wands, correct?”

“Yes,” admitted the second – more confident – guard sounding like a scolded child, enduring a talking down – or up in Harry’s case – from a boy.

“Then I don’t see the problem,” Harry stated, “Now are we going to continue this run around before I go to the Ministry regarding your inability to do your jobs or are you going to comply and make lives easier for all of us when you know I’m right?”

“Very well, I’ll escort him up,” the second guard grudgingly agreed, unable to believe he had been so thoroughly chastised by a child, he had grandchildren older than this boy. He put them all to shame that was for certain, he wasn’t going to ever complain about their cheek again.

“Do you have…” the first guard begun to ask, only to have a box handed to him, which he took and begun to inspect everything including the two flagons of hot chocolate Harry had made himself at Hogwarts. He didn’t check the contents of the hot chocolate or he would have realized there was a nutrition potion in it. Not that they would have forbidden it. It wasn’t dangerous after all.

“Hey Rabastan,” Harry said, as soon as the door was opened, allowing him entrance to the room, Rabastan was as always sitting with a cup of hot chocolate. This time it hadn’t been touched, clearly he had decided to wait for Harry’s. “I have a surprise for you today,” he said, sounding very smug indeed. Removing the two flagons of hot chocolate and passing one as well as the box over to Rabastan, who immediately delved in for a bar of chocolate. None of his anxiety showing, he didn’t have Corvus as a crutch, nor was Corvus there if Rabastan started to get a little too much for Harry. He was getting better but sometimes he just didn’t know what to say.

“Which is?” Rabastan asked, as always sounding amused.

“Someone else is joining us,” Harry said proudly. He knew how much Rabastan missed his brother, from both Rabastan and Corvus, who told him of all the times they got into mischief together. They had been close all their lives, there had been no animosity that Rodolphus was the heir and would be Lord of the Lestrange estate. They were closer than even twins some had speculated. He wanted to do this to make Corvus proud…to give him his sons even if only for an hour and Rabastan too. He’d helped him, he hadn’t needed to, but it meant the world to Harry so he would do anything he could to help them however little it was.

“What have you done?” Rabastan asked, sitting up straighter alarmed by that statement. What was the eleven-year-old up to? Didn’t he realize he had to keep this a secret?

“Charming,” Harry muttered sarcastically, try to do something nice and he was accused of who knows what Rabastan was thinking. He knew it was more out of shock than anything else, plus Rodolphus would probably be the last person on a long possible list that Rabastan would think that will walk through the door.

The sound of the door clanging open immediately followed his words, allowing Harry to clearly see the look that graced Rabastan’s face when his brother was shoved none to gently into the room. They didn’t hurt him, not really, but they were just not particularly careful with their prisoner.

“Rolph,” Rabastan whispered, staring at his brother with a mixture of awe, happiness, worry and sadness. Using the nickname for his brother he’d used as a child.

They sat him down quite roughly, looking as if they wanted to remain and protect Harry from the unscrupulous characters that the Lestrange’s made. That was putting it quite lightly, they thought worse of them most days, but eventually with Harry giving them a glare they reluctantly departed.

Rodolphus looked much worse than his brother, only because Rabastan had been getting help in the aid of time away from the dementors, mental stimulation with the books, potions and of course time with his father. Rodolphus hadn’t had any of that, and he was too far away from his brother to even have a conversation by means of shouting. Rabastan grabbed a hold of his brother, preventing him from toppling over, as he shook and shuddered still feeling the effects of the dementors.

“Here, drink this,” Harry said “It isn’t too hot,” he added, as he made his way around the table and helped Rodolphus drink the hot chocolate, which was mixed with a nutrition potion. It was a sight to see, Rabastan was clutching to his brother tightly, as if hoping that his own body heat would help his brother somehow. It wasn’t easy to get the…the only word that came to mind deluded, or mind addled, wizard to drink the hot chocolate. After practically forcing the brew upon the wizard for the first few swallows, it seemed to dawn upon Rodolphus what it was and he greedily begun to drink the contents of the flagon. It was warm, it was nice, after water and gruel…it was ambrosia to his taste buds.

Rabastan watched both his brother and Harry, surprised that he wasn’t even mildly tense to being near them. Either one of them could snap his bony neck within seconds and there would be nothing anyone could do. Surprisingly even the thought of doing it turned his stomach. All he could see was those desperate green eyes he’d first been greeted with. Desperate to get away from the Muggle hell he’d been in for a decade. Realisation dawned on him, he was growing fond of Harry Potter, he wanted to feel angry with himself, disgruntled, but all he felt was acceptance. Harry had gone out of his way to get his brother in here, he wasn’t sure how he’d accomplished it, but he’d done it.

“Here chocolate buttons, it’s probably best for him right now,” Harry said rummaging through the box once the hot chocolate was done. He was still very dazed, didn’t seem at all aware of his surroundings, he wondered if ten minutes would even be enough to bring him round. Ripping open the package, he put it closer to Rabastan so he could help his brother eat them.

“How?” Rabastan cleared his throat, “How did you…” utterly bewildered, “Does my father know?” helping Rodolphus eat the chocolates, more accurately they just sat on his tongue and dissolved, they were just small chocolate buttons. It was almost like Harry had planned for all this. It made him feel very…fond of the boy. Or more accurately more fond.

“No, it’s something I thought of last night before I came, I checked the books to make sure I was right, which I was of course.” Harry said smugly, as he sat back in his seat, sighing softly, the weekend was definitely his downtime, he liked to remain in Ravenclaw tower as much as possible, or in the library which isn’t as far to go for meals.

“Which is?” Rabastan asked, his brother begun to groan, eyes fluttering open, blearily taking everything in.

“Betrothed partners should always have Chaperones, with Corvus unable to come…they had no choice but to agree with my second choice.” Harry said, “Strictly speaking I could pick Rodolphus as a Chaperone all the time, while your dad can be yours…” he trailed off, all strictly legal and proper.

Rabastan gaped, why hadn’t he or his father thought of that? For the first time Harry Potter was making him feel like a complete and utter dunce. To add insult to injury he’d only been aware of the magical world for two months. Two months to his entire life, yes, one might as well have shoved salt in a gaping wound. The thought of getting to see his brother every week as well…it was more than he could have hoped for, even more so a few months ago before he was approached. Accepting the Betrothal was one of the best things that had happened to them. Gratitude effused him, even as he greedily took in his brother’s appearance. He looked so old, so skeletal, withered and broken. Was that what he looked like now? They’d been young when they were brought in, he was twenty-one his brother only a few years older. Quite honestly, despite their hair colour, they had aged worse than their father. No wonder it was so difficult for his father to look at him…to look at them. He’d long ago resigned himself to never seeing his brother again, to only seeing his father once a year then never once he passed. This…this was more than he could have hoped for.

“Thank you,” he said, he would deny until his dying breath that he had warbled those words.

Harry smiled, “You’re welcome,” finally feeling like he was able to replay him for everything they were doing for him.

And the spark kindled, ensuring a life long loyalty between the Potter and Lestrange families. Regardless of loyalties, separations and hardships. For the path for these two was going to be fraught with hardships, tribulation and danger.

 

-----------0

And there we go!! What did you think of this one? I was a bit iffy about the confrontation between Severus and Corvus since I'm not really used to Severus getting bested by anyone ;) hehe and I was utterly stupid to think for a second I could have the entire year fitted into a single chapter! OMG I'm only a 'fortnight' into Hogwarts!! The next few chapters will make it go farther and farther along though! Will we see the hour between Rab/Rod/Harry? The Ministry with Corvus? What is he trying to do? Get rid of the dementors? Have their presence lessened or actually get his sons a trial already? I don't want them getting out of Azkaban too soon! Will Voldemort succeed in getting the stone? Or will he require Harry's aid? Will he allow him to live for handing it over with only requesting the promise he will help those loyal to him? Realize the loyalty he could have in Harry along with it? Will Corvus realize the presence of the Horcrux with the diary and Harry's reactions? or will it be Tom who realizes what's going on? Will we see Ron suddenly try to befriend Harry or are you happy without their presence? R&R please!

Chapter Text

The Contract
Chapter 15

Rabastan was so bloody grateful he'd become a little stronger over the past two months, between the potions, the books, the exercise he was beginning to do – just a few push ups while he was able - and with his mind in a better shape he was coherent more frequently and able to keep his body in a little better shape than what had been the norm for the past decade. He probably wouldn't be able to beat even Harry at an arm wrestling contest, but for him, who had lain on his bed unable and unwilling to move…for the past decade it was good.

"I um…bought you a throw, its hand knitted but it has a warming charm in it, its also stitched with little runes, it isn't active or anything like that but I thought you'd like it." Harry said, "It's at the bottom of the box, I bought it next day delivery so I could bring it today." It was his first time using Owl Order at Hogwarts, but he wanted to get Rabastan something he'd like. Something useful, something that would help him. knowing how cold it was, when he'd seen it he'd known immediately that this was something to buy.

Rabastan didn't waste any time in pulling out the green throw, it was quite big, he wasn't sure how his hands hadn't brushed against it when he went for the chocolates. He did smile when he saw the colour, the stitching of the runes was even done in silver. Almost as if it had been made for him specially or by a fellow Slytherin. He wrapped it around his brothers shoulders the heat emanating from it was very welcoming, and it wasn't even around him. He would have even given it to his brother if there was even a chance he'd be allowed it. Unfortunately, the guards, just to be assholes, would take it from him. The only reason he got to keep his stuff, is because they were Betrothal gifts, and if they interfered they could face losing their jobs. They'd be too worried that his father would find out about it.
Regardless of how much of a disgrace the Lestrange name was…his father still held a lot of clout within the Ministry. Not as much as Dumbledore used to have, which prevented any real progress for those on the dark side. Maybe now that would all change, depending on who became the new head of the wizengamot and allowed the passing of laws.

"Thank you," Rabastan said, yet again, huddling impossibly closer to his brother, as all he did was give little noises of distress and confusion a little bit of consternation in his voice. Despite his general grumbling and misgivings, he did harbour a slight sadness that the blanket – no matter how much care went into maintaining it – would end up quite filthy just like him. Just like them. Which in the beginning had been utterly intolerable. He'd never been dirty a day in his life, another indignity he had been forced to endure.

Harry just gave a small smile before it fell away, he sort of got it really, relying on an eleven-year-old kid for anything was…slightly demeaning. Especially if you had spent the past decade hating said kid – which he was even if he didn't feel like one – blaming him for something he didn't have a part in. He rather hoped that Rabastan had changed his tune. "Do you still blame me for what happened that night?" he asked, 'blame me for your incarcerated status' went unsaid but most certainly heard. He wasn't sure if Rabastan had ever blamed him for it, but he'd rather clear the air and instead of allowing it to fester.

"No," Rabastan sighed, sounding extremely grudging now, damn the fact they'd sworn to be truthful with each other. "I never really did," which was true enough, he hadn't really believed that a one-year-old baby could possibly be responsible for the destruction of his Lord. He was pretty sure now it had something to do with some clause in the Slytherin line, that prevented heirs from killing one another. Or at the very least, attempts being grievously punished. Salazar Slytherin was cunning after all, and had the smartest friend around – Rowena Ravenclaw – they could have easily came up with something that would hold generation after generation.

Rodolphus groaned, "'o th' ell are you?" he managed to slur out, deeply confused as he begun to properly come around.
Rabastan smothered his amusement, he only wished he could see Rodolphus' face when he learned everything there was to know.

"Grad'ain little you'n a'nt you," Rodolphus managed to get out, assuming the boy had 'graduated a little young' squinting at the sight of the boy sitting across from him, badly trying to hold in his amusement. Which greatly pissed Rodolphus off, and he would have reacted if he'd been able to. He graduated awfully young if he was a lawyer. Only then did he began to realize not only was he uncommonly hot, but someone was touching him, without his permission! Jerking round, ready to raise hell on who thought they could touch him. He might be in prison but he was still Heir of the Lestrange family, and one day Lord…unless, unless his father had passed…his breathing hitched for two reasons, thinking his father had passed and because he knew that face, knew those eyes, but the body…bloody hell, he was staring at his brother for the first time in a decade. He looked awful, "yeh…Look like shit," Rodolphus commented, blinking blearily at his brother, almost wishing he couldn't see properly.

"Needing glasses old man?" Rabastan teased his brother, grinning when Rodolphus let out a bark of laughter.

"Is father gone?" Rodolphus whispered sobering completely, his heart thudding painfully against his emaciated ribcage, remaining stiff as a board waiting for an answer.

"No, he's not," it was Harry who spoke, with urgency and compassion. "He's very much alive and probably getting annoyed at the Ministry of magic in a Wizengamot meeting."

------0

There were fifty-four people surrounding the circular table within the Wizengamot meeting hall, the wizengamot members themselves were all in their pristine plum robes that made them look just ghastly. The scribe, Minister for Magic and undersecretary were all in normal attires. They had all just voted in a their new Chief warlock of the Wizengamot, in order to replace Albus Dumbledore who had kept the position for a decade.

Half were upset with the shift – balance – in power and others were doing all they could to refrain from raising their wands in celebration. It was quite an eclectic group of people, and it would have been a strange sight if they weren't all used to it. Primarily the light side mourned the loss of the Headmaster, not truly understanding why he'd been ordered to step down. The neutrals didn't care one way or another, and the dark wizards and witches…well they would be celebrating tonight – yet again – in jubilation.

"I request a move to make a legislation," Corvus stood, not even giving them a chance for Tiberius Ogden a chance to thank his supporters for the honour bestowing upon him.

"Let him have his moment," a dumpy wizard with a large black moustache protested.

"Would you rather just celebrate for hours?" Corvus asked, "I have things that require my attention some time today," which was true enough, Harry needed to get his potions on time. If he didn't it could be potentially disastrous. Especially important were the pain relief draughts, because Harry did suffer from pain near constantly, not as bad as it used to be, but an unacceptable amount nonetheless.

"He's quite right," Lucius Malfoy proclaimed getting rid of a piece of imaginary lint on his robes. Normally he wouldn't dare be caught in such gaudy clothing's, but it was something he'd need to endure. If he wished to make any difference in the magical world, then needs a must. With Dumbledore's removal, he had succeeded in gaining himself a seat upon the wizengamot. His normal duties for the past many years he had been on the Council of magic and of course Hogwarts board of governors.

"Very well, Lord Lestrange," Lord Ogden declared, "Let us proceed…a celebration can be heralded after." Reclaiming his seat, nothing could spoil how he felt, not even impatient Lords, truthfully though, he couldn't wait to get home to inform his family, his wife, they were going to be so happy to hear this news. He'd never expected this, Dumbledore after all had never shown signs of slowing or stepping down.

"Good," Corvus declared, still smarting over the fact he was missing visiting his son this week, it would be impossible to get another date and time set up for what was left of this week. They would just say it was up to him to keep his appointment, and that legally it was his Betrothed that has to be there, not him. He wasn't going to rock the boat and risk anything jeopardising that.

"So what say you?" Lord Ogden asked officially, wondering what would be his first legislation and whether he would approve it or not.

------0

It struck Rabastan just how much Harry had come to know their father, especially if he was aware of how much he loathed wizengamot meetings. It didn't always used to be that way. "He speaks the truth, Rod, he's fine, I saw him last week."

"Last week? It's been another year?" Rodolphus' brow wrinkled, his father's visit once a year was the only way of marking how long he'd been in this hellhole. Usually they both saw their father within a few days of each other, it was the only time the other could get news of their own sibling.

"No," Rabastan shook his head, how did he tell his brother that for months he had been getting reprieves while he suffered? It didn't seem very fair, but nothing was fair in Azkaban.

"I'm betrothed to your brother, which allows weekly visitation rights, Corvus and I come every week to see Rabastan," Harry explained, wondering how much of this explanation that Rodolphus would remember. How many times they'd need to tell him in order for him to truly understand. He seemed worse off than his brother…had Rabastan been that bad? Then again, Rodolphus had literally just been ripped from his cell, where he had endured the dementors presence near full time. The only time the dementors left was to let them eat for half an hour in the morning, lunch and dinner…and the food was just foul apparently. "Do you want a sandwich I made some roast beef?" considering how thin and emaciated they probably shouldn't get food like that. Should probably get things like porridge and that, but they still got fed, so he was hoping their stomach would rebel badly with food. Plus, who would want bland boring food when it was the only opportunity you had to eat something substantial? Hello…even he would eat better if he didn't know it would knock his health back potentially.

"Betrothed?" Rodolphus murmured, taking a few seconds for the familiar term to come to him, for him to understand its meaning. "Father is paying you I assume?" it was a good way to get visitation rights, he was surprised it had taken his father so long to think of something like that.

"No," Harry said, handing over the plastic wrapped sandwich, giving one to both Rodolphus and Rabastan. "I wanted out from under my family's control, and needed to be away from my magical guardian. This was one way to guarantee it, it's more of a quid pro quo really. We both get something out of it."

Rabastan listened and watched, finding himself amused by Harry's working around the truth of the matter. It seemed he didn't want to reveal his name quite yet. Not that he blamed the boy really, considering how he'd reacted upon hearing the term 'Potter' on its own. It had taken a while for him to warm up to the boy, and apparently Harry didn't realize how much his feelings had changed – which was probably a good thing really – since the question he asked earlier indicates the need for validation. Not wishing to be blamed for something he had no control over. He quickly scooped up the food and began to eat, he'd never say no to food, and Harry always said he made them himself, which was quite shocking since the food or drinks were always very good, he'd make a good chef.

It took Rodolphus an age to digest that information, as he shakily brought the food to his mouth. Stuffing the sandwich in as quickly as he could, screw manners, he was starving.

"You'll be sick if you eat that quickly," Harry said quietly, "There's more food in there, take your time." He understood the urge intimately, he'd done it so often himself and actually been sick. The need to eat as quickly as humanly possible in order to stop the Dursley's from taking the food or worse…finding out he'd eaten it in the first place. There was no pity on his face, only understanding.

"Which house do you belong to?" Rodolphus asked, his eyes narrowed in silent contemplation. Given how understanding he was to what he was going through…he believed he understood why the boy wanted out from his families control. "Who are your parents?" which family would actually abuse their heir? Unless, he was a spare, but the thought made his stomach curdle, normally no magical child was abused, but there was some exceptions, never too drastic. The spares were somewhat and sometimes treated with an afterthought. Something he still struggled with actually, after all he and his brother had always gotten along and their father had never once treated them differently.

"My parents are dead, it was really my magical guardian that was the main source of the problem," Harry replied, blank faced, giving absolutely nothing away. "Now it's no longer a problem." Being blunt and truthful without revealing much of anything.

Rabastan pursed his lips, quite frankly impressed, "Are you sure you're not a Slytherin?" how the hell had the hat put him in Ravenclaw.

"You know I am," Harry grinned, facing Rabastan – not that he had to move far – feeling himself relaxing farther, perhaps this wouldn't be too bad. He hadn't anticipated Rodolphus being aware enough to ask questions overly much…let alone finding out who he was. Not until next week at least so that Corvus could have his back against the brothers. "Your dad is helping though," a wistful sort of smile on his face.
Rodolphus' eyebrows rose as he stared at Harry perplexed, nobody liked their father. Okay, most people couldn't stand their father. He was too curt, too blunt, added with the Lestrange reputation…and actually his own – which was whispered with reverence in Death Eater circles – well to see a kid actually looking like he revered the ground he walked on was rather weird sight to see indeed. "What age are you?" how could an eight year old kid get into Azkaban to visit his brother? Was there not a legal loophole to prevent that? Now that his vision wasn't impaired he could actually see properly.

"I'm eleven," Harry replied honestly, which he was always being here, honesty was the stipulation at the contract they'd enacted. Rodolphus wasn't included in that contract though, which meant he could hurt him, lie through his teeth…and generally be very unpleasant and Harry didn't want to spoil this visit with any of that. "I've just started Hogwarts…"

Rodolphus stared at Harry in disbelief, giving the boy another once over, if he'd been all there, he would have perhaps recognized Harry for who he was. Although, truthfully, Harry was growing his hair out, which due to his good health, it was much nicer to touch and deal with. He didn't have that straw like bird nest he was used to dealing with, along with his health bettering so too it seemed was his hair and nails. He was noticing everything different about him, and of course enjoying his life for the first time in a decade. Plus, he liked to hide his scar, it didn't stop the gaping but it made it less annoying. Like he was getting the better of them by not allowing them to see what they obviously wanted to gawp at.

"Quid pro quo," Harry murmured, seeing the look on Rodolphus' face, telling him without words that his thoughts were most probably accurate.

"Why isn't father here?" Rodolphus asked after a few minutes of silence, surprisingly unstrained as the brothers ate as much as they possibly could for this duration. Rodolphus was already feeling the strain of having eaten more than he usually got in a week. He refused to stop though, he hadn't been full in a long, long time and the food was to die for. Although it might just be the fact he hadn't had anything decent in over a decade though. Who was he kidding? The House-elves had made divine food.

"He's at the Ministry of magic today," Rabastan explained, revealing yet again where their father was, starting to strain at holding his brother so long, but he didn't care, he'd endure that pain. A decade of not seeing his brother…he didn't want this hour to end at all. Knowing though, that Rodolphus would join them next week bolstered his spirit further. The Dementors would not get this feeling from him he determined – although really they would he knew that – he just didn't want to accept it. He would keep it tucked in his heart as long as humanly possible.

The feelings came back, fleeting as they were though, when the dementors left him alone, and that hadn't happened since he'd given up hope that the Dark Lord would get them out of there or ever been released from prison. He'd known from the beginning that he was in here for life, the courts and Crouch Senior had made that more than clear at their collective trial.

"Why?" Rodolphus asked blankly, unlike his brother he didn't think they'd ever regain their freedom.

A grim silence went well with the current surroundings, for it was just as bleak and desolate as the thought of the Lestrange brothers.

Harry got it, he honestly did, he was still getting over the fact he was free of the Dursley's and Dumbledore. Some days he woke up and was
determined to believe it was a wonderful dream. Quite frankly if the brothers were released tomorrow they'd think it was a joke, they honestly believed they would be stuck here for life. After what they did though…were they a danger to society? Possibly, they had a hand in torturing someone…several someone's actually. A legal standpoint, even if they had a trial they'd still end up in Azkaban. The usage of the Cruciatus Curse was a one way ticket to Azkaban for life. Not just that, the other Unforgivables too. If he was to get them out…he would need to find another way.

He was reading everything he could as quickly as he could while intending to make Corvus proud and his test scores as high as possible. Hogwarts, Corvus had wrote, whether he enjoyed it or not was very important for his future. For what career he gained after the school would require high results indeed. Especially he wrote, if he intended to go into law or some such. That Harry was smart, and to prove to himself and the magical population he was more than just a title they'd given him, more than just the Boy-Who-Lived.

----0

"You want Dementors assigned only for certain hours in Azkaban prison," was cried out incredulously as the wizengamot members read through the missive.

"Yes," Corvus explained calmly and patiently, until he found out a way to get his sons released with their freedom assured, there was little to no point in getting them a trial. Yes, he'd tried for years to get them separate trials, but that had been just a desperate attempt of a despairing father. Now though…with Dumbledore removed and things moving in his favour, it wasn't a trial he wanted…no he wanted his son to walk out of that prison one day. If he had to leave them in there until he found a way to ensure that then so be it. He would make them as comfortable as he could in the meantime.

"We would have escape attempts on our hands! It's impossible to contemplate let alone enact!" another protest was raised.

"Correct me if I'm wrong but they are in the middle of the sea aren't they not?" Corvus asked, biting sarcasm unhidden. "Without a wand, and a way to escape they would die before they reached any shore. That was the entire point of building the fortress where it is." They weren't the first to build a prison surrounded by nothing but water, something he'd learned from Harry actually, there was a Muggle prison called Alcatraz that had been just as impregnable.

"The prisoners aren't kept healthy enough to enact any sort of escape attempt," Lucius also pointed out, "I doubt they would get as far as the cell block without any aid. They would be escaping alone, if they somehow managed to get free of their cell, because they won't be able to just magically open the doors to the other cells." He drawled lazily, making them all out to be idiots without saying the words.

"It would require more guards! Aurors stationed in the island, do you know how difficult it is to get anyone to wish to guard that vile place?" Fudge protested most viciously.

Corvus listened to the argument surrounding him on all sides, a hidden feeling of hope brewing within him. They were arguing the point, and perhaps not in his favour…but they were arguing it. They hadn't just said no, this was good, Merlin help him, Dumbledore wouldn't have even raised the issue, he would have just discarded it immediately. Just like he had done in the past, without informing any of the others as was his power as Chief Warlock. His hears prickled when he Fudge speak to Doge, now that just would not do.

"What is the whole purpose of Azkaban prison?" Corvus demanded, being heard over the noise, which quietened down considerably at his question.

"To get rid of the fifth of our society," Doge proclaimed but he was immediately ignored by Corvus who went for the bigger fish.

"To keep the general population safe!" Minister Fudge retorted immediately, refusing to even entertain the idea.

"And?" Corvus continued, watching as the others shifted in confusion, but remained silent, watching the show in front of them.

"To make convicts pay for their crimes," Fudge calmed considerably believing to have the upper hand.

"To do their time, yes, the ultimate goal being…" Corvus expectantly waited on Fudge answering, the man was an idiot, how he'd become the Minister he didn't know. He was far from the highest ranking Auror, or all that good at his job either. The ministry was going to hell in a handbasket really, electing Fudge as Minister. He hadn't lived up to a single one of his promises he'd made during his election process.

"That they do not reoffend," Fudge knew and realized he was walking into a trap, he just couldn't figure out how. The look on Corvus' face wasn't even remotely hidden.

"Oh?" Corvus asked a feigned look of surprise, "And just how often does that occur?"

"What?" Fudge's brows lowered as he stared in confusion, what on earth was Corvus trying to prove? Perhaps should have remained silent on the subject.

"How often do inmates of Azkaban prison get out and actually NOT reoffend?" Corvus drawled out, eyes gleaming with an undecipherable emotion.

"Proves they should all remain locked up," Doge murmured distastefully. Knowing Corvus was doing this to benefit his sons, the scum that they were. He had cared very much for Alice and Frank Longbottom, they'd been wonderful people and parents. They had not deserved their fate. It was disgusting that Lestrange could use his powers to better the life of scum while nothing could be done for the Longbottoms.
It took all of Corvus' power to remain seated and not fling himself at Doge like a hooligan. It wouldn't help his sons, he thought repeatedly, it would not help his sons.

------0

"How are you feeling now?" Harry asked, he'd suggested eating some more chocolate earlier. He hadn't needed to be told twice, and he was glad he had bought double the amount with the way they were going through it today.

Rodolphus just nodded sort of grimly, apparently not much of a talker when it came to how he felt.

"Is…is there anything you want me to write your father?" Harry asked, "For next week?"

"Next week?" Rodolphus asked, once again lost, but that was nothing new, he'd felt lost for years…as for the conversation well, yes, he was still lost mostly regarding that. Only because he couldn't see a full clear picture, and that wasn't going to happen…not until he learned who his brother was betrothed to.

"The laws and regulations of a Betrothal contract, Corvus played both our chaperones, but I can use you…if you want?" as if that answer would be in any way negative.

Rodolphus' breath was caught, a little kindling of hope beginning to light within his very, very bleak soul.

"Of course, he will," Rabastan declared strongly, refusing to contemplate the opposite. Plus, Rodolphus wasn't really aware enough to give his consent or say no with a clear mind. Hell, he might be thinking he was just dreaming, some dreams he'd had were realistic enough to startle him when he found himself back in Azkaban again. "How did your flying lesson go?"

"Easy," Harry said.

"Did you enjoy it?" some did, some didn't, some refused to go near a broom again after the first lesson. His brother couldn't stand flying, while he himself rather enjoyed it. He'd even played on the Slytherin Quidditch team while he was at Hogwarts for three years.

"It was fun," Harry replied somewhat diplomatically, if not a little bit repetitive, up down, up down, maybe it would change when he actually got a chance to fly the broomstick. He understood the reason for the lessons being so restrictive to begin with. Flying was dangerous and with only one professor to over twenty-thirty students per class. Although a few of his classmates and his Dorm mate had complained about the late models and how slow they were. He summarised they'd already flew brooms, some had fascinating tales, probably exaggerated. Goldstein had claimed he'd had a close encounter with a Muggle helicopter, almost flew into the 'wings' which he assumed he meant the propellers. Since a helicopter didn't have wings, only aeroplanes did. Others chimed in claiming they'd been attacked by a flock of geese or seagulls. "There were a lot of…tall tales from the others though," his brow wrinkling as he spoke, giving way to the doubt he felt to the validity of the truth behind such claims.

Rabastan smirked, "Let me guess, nearly ramming into planes, paragliders and birds?" the stories couldn't change, not really, short of something else being invented by Muggles recently.

"Didn't hear about any paragliders," Harry said, that was a new one. "Your dad also made sure I wasn't having to take Muggle studies anymore, which gives me more time to self-study Ancient Runes." He didn't need to worry about using it to do his homework, at least not yet anyway.

"You shouldn't have had to take in the first place," Rabastan sneered, thinking of how incompetent Hogwarts was. He was a Muggle Raised wizard – essentially pureblood, Lily came from the Slytherin line after all, along with Potter. He didn't consider Harry to be a Half-Blood even though it was technically what he was due to the fact that the parents and grandparents were not Wizards.

Rodolphus having finished eating – he was so full he literally felt as though he could pop – just lay against his brother relishing in the human contact for the first time in a decade. He listened to them talk, the warmth of the throw somehow seeping into the core of him. He couldn't keep up with the majority of what was being said, he sort of felt a little fuzzy, a food coma coupled with being warm for the first time in a long time, it was little wonder he was feeling sleepy.

He refused to sleep though, and so forced himself to remain awake, he might not have heard everything he was able to cement one thing into his thoughts. Harry revered the ground his father walked on, he talked about him almost constantly during the hour with them. Always with a certain look in his eyes, as though he worshiped him and wanted to emulate him.

Of course, this was true, he just hadn't been there to see Harry fight for Rodolphus' admittance to the meeting room.

Corvus would be proud.

---------0

"I don't think we've seen a case where an ex-inmate of Azkaban prison didn't reoffend." Ogden confirmed, he would know he was in the right department. However, the others too would know, since they saw them again and again in court as they were arrested and placed in Azkaban for a variety of different crimes. Them becoming more and more…withdrawn, uncooperative and, well, immersed in growing insanity wrought by their time in prison.

"That's because it hasn't happened, even those found innocent of their original crimes inevitably end up behind bars," Corvus explained darkly hitting them where it would hurt, "Prison was meant to be a institution that rehabilitated the prisoners so that they learned their lesson and re-joined society. Since our society seems so…determined to follow the laws placed forth from the Muggle world…then we cannot pick and choose which laws we wish to enact and discard."

"Excuse me?" Ogden was somehow heard over the roused outcry that Lord Lestrange had enacted. "What did you just imply?" genuinely offended by what the wizard had just said to him.

Corvus arched a brow over that display, slightly taken aback, could it be true that they didn't know about this law? Or had it been hidden to prevent any betterment of the magical world? Even to those stuck within Azkaban prison? How many other laws and regulations had Dumbledore simply elected to ignore and allow the others in the wizengamot to remain unaware of. If Dumbledore had done so…then Fudge definitely had a hand in it. His cold dark eyes zoned in on the Minister, but to his utter bafflement he seemed just as interested in knowing as the rest of them. "Incompetent fool," he hissed under his breath, but he was heard by nearly everyone in the room. He would have blushed at his slip up if he had been capable of feeling embarrassed. As it stood, he definitely wasn't feeling anything remotely like embarrassment when it came to the Ministry.

"Again? Excuse me?" Ogden puffed up, like a prey trying to seem bigger and more intimidating to a predator.

"You do not know," Corvus realised, his thoughts were coming to an abrupt halt, he had been prepared to argue his case, tooth and nail not having to tell them what exactly the law entails. Thankfully though, he believed he'd brought the copy with him, opening the folder in front of him, shifting through the parchment until he found it three minutes later. He had brought it with him, thank Merlin for that, he'd rather not have to postpone the meeting while he retrieved it. Not that it would help matters, he wasn't going to get to see his son today anyway.

A glance of the time confirmed this, the hour was nearly up, although he did want to make sure Rabastan had behaved and not scared Harry off. Oh, he knew his son well, crabby most of the time, understandable really. Harry was getting more used to their ways though and didn't offend easy. Considering how he'd grown up, he suspected Harry no longer let anything hurt him. Like water rolling off a Kelpie's back really.

"Speak up, Lord Lestrange, weren't you one who proclaimed you had things to do?" Ogden declared, worry warring with fear of what was about to be declared. He didn't want his time begun on the Wizengamot – as chief warlock – marred for anything. He had a feeling that this was a hopeless case. At the same time, showing his backbone against the likes of Lestrange and the older lines, without being disrespectful.

"The laws in the Muggle world are changing, five years ago the Human Rights Act was put into action," Corvus explained easily, he had read it multiple times since Gringotts had found it for him. Swiftly copying the documents, he watched as one floated to each person within the room, it was over ten pieces of parchment long, each six foot long, as were all legislations. "Which means Azkaban should be found inhospitable for the prisoners."

"I need time to read this and investigate!" Ogden declared, knowing they didn't have the time to sift through the entirety of this Human Rights Act today. He was quite furious that new laws had been passed in the muggle world and he had been unaware of it, that the wizengamot were unaware of it.

"I also have here, legislation declaring that life sentences in the Muggle world are anywhere between seventeen years to twenty-five years." Corvus added, understanding the need for time, even though he wished it wasn't so. This he'd had to dig deeper for, which he had done himself, after Harry's passing comment about the law in the magical world being 'different' from the Muggle one. The Human Rights Act had been easy enough since he knew the name of it, finding out about the sentencing hadn't been quite as easy. Life sentences weren't supposed to be an actual life sentence. "With the eligibility for parole," once again copying it and passing it over to each individual making sure they all received it. He wouldn't accept any excuses if they tried to say they didn't receive a copy from him.

Ogden used a hanky to wipe his forehead which had begun to spring with beads of sweat, as nerves begun to get the better of him. So much for a smooth transition to Chief Warlock, he'd be lucky if he got to see his family this week, he really needed to speak to the Minister as well, he should know these things. He had given Dumbledore way too much control and leeway, but surely he wouldn't have wilfully allowed such blatant lawbreaking to be done on his watch?

"I think this meeting should be postponed until further notice," Ogden declared, his heart sinking.

"I demand an emergency meeting, we need to uncover all these inconsistences," Corvus demanded, "How many other laws have been passed that we are woefully unaware of? We cannot let it continue." For the first time the wizengamot were in full agreement, all muttering that they should yes, even if it meant giving up their Sunday to have this sorted once and for all. He refused to miss another meeting with his sons so he prayed they wouldn't end up meeting on a Saturday again. "The goblins can do the work for us, the fee will be more than worth it, while we look at the inconsistences themselves." Knowing Dumbledore was to blame without any need to 'look' but the wizengamot – well half of them – would not believe him. He'd rather see the look on their faces when they worked it out themselves.

"Agreed," Ogden said strongly despite not feeling it, he couldn't go against everyone anyway, he had no desire to alienate them all on his first day of holding the position. "I shall have it written up and owls delivered by the end of the day." With a time and place, with everything else wiped off so that they had ample time to figure this mess they found themselves in. How Dumbledore could have missed all this was inconceivable. He would be looking for answers. Anyone that tried to stop him, well he would make sure they were no longer holding a job at the end of the day.

"Good," was muttered around the room, evidently pleased that matters were being taken into hand.

"Then I call this meeting to be adjourned," Ogden declared feeling stronger having the backing of the entire wizengamot. Regardless he still felt a little shaky, but he toughed up, this job wasn't an easy one and he'd be damned if he gave them any reason to withdraw their support. Dumbledore had been able to do it – failing as he may have been – surely he could do the same thing? He didn't have anywhere near as much as Dumbledore usually had on his plate with all his positions. Although he no longer seemed to want them having taken on less, presumably due to old age? Who knew why he'd stepped down, Cornelius wasn't sharing that information.

It wasn't about the unwillingness either, but the inability. Magic was a wonderful thing, but regretfully also quite annoying, everyone assuming Dumbledore had stepped down rather than being forced down by a boy he had so grievously wronged.

And Corvus seethed over it the most, so truly furious about it, but until the time came…he reluctantly conceded the need for silence. He would not stop going after the old fool until he had enough to see him arrested and his entire life work destroyed leaving him destitute. Dumbledore was no longer just an annoyance, this was personal to Corvus, and he would see it through no matter how long it took.
Corvus stood up, giving a sharp nod, inwardly relieved, replacing everything back into his folder, shrinking it down and vacating the room. He wasn't the only one swiftly leaving, Lucius was not far behind him, "How are things going?"

"Very well," Corvus replied as they walked along the hall.

"And how is he?" Lucius continued without naming names, portraits had ears and they liked to gossip, so forget about the walls. He still wasn't sure what to make of Corvus' desire to help Harry Potter. Although, nobody deserves what those foul Muggles had done to them. So talk about being entirely too conflicted for one's own good. He had nonetheless informed his son to have care while interacting with the boy – he'd been convinced the boy would be in Gryffindor and there was a natural enmity between those houses – but he'd been wrong. Then his wife had informed them of something he'd rather forgotten, or rather overlooked, something he should have remembered anyway due to Corvus' place in Harry's life.

"I won't know for sure until he returns for Yule," Corvus stated, and yes, Harry would be spending his Yule with him, with someone who cares.

"He desires to return to the manor for Yule?" Lucius asked, clearly surprised.

"Indeed," Corvus replied, lips twitching.

"You owl him often?" Lucius asked, arching a brow, it had only been two weeks and there was talk of Christmas?

"We speak every day," Corvus revealed, finding no reason to keep that a secret.

"Perhaps not every day, do not be surprised if you do not hear from him on All Hallows Eve," Lucius revealed sombrely. It wasn't an easy day for anyone on the Dark side, the had lost someone important to them all. Potter, too, had suffered loss, and whether he liked the boy or not, he sympathised.

Corvus merely arched a brow, evidently Lucius thought Harry was a crying abused waif that still desired his dead parents. Which just isn't the truth, he accepted their death, acknowledged it but had no useless desire to see them suddenly alive. The abuse he suffered probably snuffed those thoughts out. Along with being rescued, instead he had rescued himself. He wasn't sure about the revenge angle when it came to the Dark Lord though, but he very much doubted it. Harry only wished to thrive and live his life, after being supressed for so long. He could only hope that Harry didn't allow himself to be manipulated by his extended stay at Hogwarts. Giving a non-committal deciding not to let Lucius in on his suspicions, they did however, continue to converse quietly until they reached the Ministry atrium and parted ways through means of the Floo Network.

Despite the fact he had thought to immediately find out how it had gone, he didn't believe that Harry would write anything in the book until the evening. Coming and going from Ravenclaw tower wasn't something Harry could do, so he would more than likely remain as close to the great hall as possible in order to have his meals before returning to his Dorm. He had made sure he knew everything, grilling Harry for as much information as possible about his routine and regimen.

So, instead of checking the book, he set himself into getting through his own routine, getting the animals fed, brushing them, petting them, after getting them back inside of course. Then he cleaned up his office hours later and put everything in its place with a few flicks of his wand, he had left it in a rather haphazard mess earlier while making sure he had everything for the meeting.

Once he was positive it was done to his high standards, he nodded firmly, he was extremely pleased with how things had gone today. For the first time things were beginning to look up, he could scarcely believe how smoothly it had gone. Normally he had to fight tooth and nail to be heard. He frowned remembering Doge's words, eyes flashing with malice. He had already been tethering on the edge when it came to the old annoying fool. Especially after what Harry said about his presence around Privet Drive growing up, added to being Dumbledore's friend well, the puzzle was easily complete. The insult to his sons though…that would not stand at all. He wouldn't target Doge though, oh no, no, then he wouldn't suffer the way he wanted him to.

He ate a late supper brought to him by the House-elves, having informed them that he would prefer no dinner made this evening instead a hearty supper. He hated having missed the visit to his son, making a mental note to 'suggest' that any meetings not be held on Saturday, either that or get the day Harry visits changed to a Sunday, nothing except emergency meetings were ever held on a Sunday, and he would just avoid going to the meetings instead go to his son. He thought absently, as he ate the food in front of him, enjoying the hearty stew the House-elves had made for him. Having Harry there, the food had significantly changed, become more healthy, even for him. Who ate the same as Harry, just in much larger portions, just eating healthier and a better outlook on life he felt over decade younger.

He elected not to eat dessert, his impatience getting the better of him, dinner had been served over forty-five minutes ago in the Great Hall. Surely, Harry had already eaten – he couldn't eat big portions – and returned to his dorm for the evening by now? Calling for the House-elf to take his dessert away, he left the dinning room, and made his way to his bedroom, taking a quick shower to get the dirt off him that he'd amassed while taking care of the animals before settling into bed.

He regretted every single deviation from his day when he caught sight of the words written on the page.

Well, I sort of did something today…I wasn't sure it would work so I didn't say anything last night. Without you there I thought to demand Rodolphus as my chaperone. Being that it wasn't 'proper' for me and Rabastan to be on our own. Which is true enough I suppose, they had no choice but to cede to my demands. We can make it so that you are Rabastan's and Rodolphus is my chaperone…it means you'll get to see them both.

Every single week.

Rodolphus was a little bit fuzzy, he kept up with us when we spoke sometimes, I didn't tell him who I was. I think that amused Rab a lot! He kept smirking every time I spoke about anything regarding my personal information like why I was Betrothed. I think you'll need to repeat everything we've said next week though.

I hate that horrible place. I hope all went well at the Ministry of Magic today.

Corvus re-read the words three times after his brain came back online after he read 'Rodolphus being my chaperone' he could have cursed up a storm if he hadn't been so damn shocked to his very core. It hadn't dawned on him at all that he could have used Rodolphus as a chaperone. Sliding out of bed, the lights flaring adding more light to the room and not just from the blazing fireplace, he grabbed the appropriate book and read hastily over the information, page after page was shifted aside until he got to the information he wanted.

Read and re-reading the entire chapter on regulations despite knowing it mostly by heart.

It was true. He could use both of them and there was nothing anyone could do.

Somewhat, someway, Harry had once again surprised him.

You, my boy, are my miracle, wrote Corvus reverentially. Thank you. His boys, he was going to see both his boys next week. His eyes watered a little, the thanks was inadequate but honestly…he could think of nothing he could say that was worthy of it. "Miracle indeed," he said out loud.

-------0

There we go! An emotional Corvus :) So will the next chapter jump to All Hallows Eve? Or perhaps Yule? Will Harry end up injured simply by being in the wrong place and the wrong time with the Troll? Will a lot of them end up injured due to Dumbledore's actions calling them into question? Or will Hermione be injured as is canon? Will Harry be able to return for Yule or will Dumbledore use every trick in the book to try and force Harry to stay? Meddling from behind of course...will Harry look upon the mirror after being spelled to go to it? What will he see? his parents? him married to Rabastan and having Corvus as a father-in-law? Will that kickstart Harry truly beginning to try and help them more? Will Harry get them out of Azkaban legally? Making them out to be innocent bystanders that was wrongly convicted? Or will it be a rocky road for them with having to remain out of public scrutiny while they recover? preventing any real courting being done :P I'm still so conflicted on when to have Rabastan and Rodolphus released, when Harry's fourteen or fifteen...whether to have Bellatrix utterly crazy or actually a little maternal and the 'craziness' just an act she put on to deter the male Death Eaters from trying anything as she was the only female amongst them? It would be weird having Bellatrix in it without the craziness though lol

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 16

For the entire week after reading Corvus’ words, Harry had been floating through life. Nothing, absolutely nothing could bring him down. Although he did feel a little bad for declining Hagrid’s offer of tea for a second time. It was no fault of Hagrid’s own, Harry just didn’t have the energy to make his way down there after school. That time was solely for ‘decompressing’, Corvus’ words not his, although it was clear Corvus did not approve of Hagrid like at all, he’d gone to school with him apparently, and found him to be utterly idiotic, a danger to society with the creatures he kept and anyone who spent any time with him their IQ would decline rapidly. That was a polite way of thinking of what Corvus actually said. Corvus’ hadn’t actually told him not to talk to Hagrid, just informed him to have care when speaking to the half-giant, that number one, he was very much in Dumbledore’s camp, and he couldn’t keep a secret if he tried. So, take what he said with a grain of salt, or assume it was meant to be overheard. He’d stopped his tirade when he realized Harry had no intentions – or the ability – to go down to Hagrid’s hut.

“Hey, you going to the library? They’re having a little mini-tournament in Rune dominoes.” Harry’s only roommate questioned, well aware that Harry absolutely loved playing Rune Dominoes. Terry Boot quickly gathered everything he would need for the day, which wasn’t much, it was the weekend after all. “Unless, you’re going to disappear on us again?” they had noticed Harry was curiously absent for hours on a Saturday. He was pretty predicable, he spent most of his time in Ravenclaw common room or the library like most other Ravenclaws.

“Mini-tournament?” Harry perked up at that, “Sounds fun!” completely ignoring his other statement. He was allowed to do whatever he wanted, he didn’t need to answer to anyone let alone his roommate. It wasn’t as if he was breaking school rules after all, no, he was doing everything correctly.

“Yeah, if you say so,” Terry snorted, he couldn’t stand Rune Dominoes, plus nobody under thirteen usually played that game. Anyone that did was very smart and had rudimentary understanding of runes.

Harry rolled his eyes, it was still early, he wasn’t due to leave for a few more hours yet.

“I’ll see you later,” Terry added once more before he left the room, the door slightly ajar as he exited eager to get down to breakfast then to the Quidditch pitch.

Harry slid out the box from the bedside cabinet, and opened it, as always he found the mornings worth of potions he had to take. Corvus was already awake and had put them all in place. With a resigned sigh, he shrugged his shoulders, he begun to take the potions, swallowing them down without grimacing. Yes, they tasted foul, yes, he couldn’t wait until he no longer had to take them, but he’d rather take them than…well the future the healer had envisioned, which summarily didn’t have him in it. Once each was taken, he corked them and placed the empty vials back inside. When he came back up he’d find the vials gone and new ones in place. They always lay heavily in his stomach though, after taking them, but he never regurgitated them back up.

Closing the box back up, he slid it back into the drawer and closed it. His brow furrowing, conflicted on what to do, play Rune Dominoes or go to the kitchen and make some things for both Rabastan and Rodolphus. Well, there were two hours, he could play for a while then go to the kitchen. The mini-tournament surely wasn’t all that big. Especially if it was being played in the library, there was no way Madam Pince would endure it. She didn’t tolerate noise or rowdiness from anyone, not even the Ravenclaws who were frequent visitors.

With his mind made up, Harry scrambled out of bed, and got dressed in his normal attires when he wasn’t in his school uniform. A lot of his weekend he spent with the Slytherins and they too dressed similarly. So, he didn’t feel too out of place. They unlike everyone else actually knew where he was going on Saturdays, and they always conveniently had some chocolate on them that they decided they were ‘finished’ with to offer him. As if he didn’t have his own chocolate, which he did, he bought a little bar for himself when he was practically bulk buying Rabastan’s stash every week. Whoever put his delivery into boxes must think he was going to become a fat pig like Dudley. Harry shuddered at the mere thought, and he vowed never to let that happen.

He knew he would have to go for breakfast first though, instead of heading straight for the library. It had been drummed into him never to miss any meals and that consuming the potions required something to eat afterwards. So, despite the childish urge to just go the library and have fun, especially when he wasn’t all that hungry, he went to breakfast.

He hadn’t lied to Corvus and he wasn’t about to start now, he would ask to make sure he had eaten today when they got to Azkaban. Like he did every week just to make sure he was sticking to his regimen. He was so excited to see Corvus, just remembering his words last week infused him with warmth and happiness. Almost to the point of giddiness. Feelings that were entirely foreign to him months ago were becoming all too familiar now.

“Harry! Wait up! We’ll come with you!” Patil called out, as the girls bound from their own dormitories, seeing Harry just about to vacate the common room.

“Only if you’re ready to leave now, I want to go to the mini-tournament they’re having in the library,” Harry called out, his voice steady and calm, never once raised. Corvus said it was uncouth to raise ones voice, whether you were angry or not.

“What mini-tournament?” asked Marietta from behind Sue Li and Padma Patil.

“Rune Dominoes,” Harry calmly explained, knowing that they wouldn’t want to play. Nobody in his year really did, despite coming from Pureblood families. The only ones who actually knew the game and could play were Padma and Terry and they didn’t like the game. They preferred playing exploding snap and that marble game…the name was escaping him at the moment. Ah, Gobstones in fact they had tried out to join the Hogwarts Gobstone team but didn’t win a place.

“Rather you than me,” Sue exclaimed, as they approached Harry, who kept the door open for them to get out, “That game is so difficult,” Harry closed the door, ensuring it was properly shut before beginning to walk down to the Great Hall with his fellow classmates.

“Won’t get any less difficult if you don’t try to play,” Harry pointed out, “It’s a bit like Chess that way,” and chess had been difficult for him to begin with. It required thinking ahead, to begin with the pain had prevented that, but with careful coaching from Corvus he liked to think he played well for someone with only a few months education in the game. He had yet to win a game though, but it was fun trying, he was rather competitive he was beginning to realize.

“Where is everyone else?” Marietta questioned, “I swear Terry was just in the common room…”

Harry’s lips pressed together, Marietta did not have permission to use Terry’s first name, nor his come to that – only Padma did – but she continued to disgrace herself by using them constantly with all the lower years and even the ones higher than her. He had assumed she was a Muggle born – he did not have anything against them – due to her ignorance on the subject, only to be surprised when he learned she was in fact a pureblood. Which gave the appearance of her mocking all their traditions, which he was annoyed at. He wasn’t friends with Marietta and anyone who heard her calling for him by his given name would think so. “They’ve gone down to see the Ravenclaw Quidditch team practice,” Harry eventually stated, as they begun to go downstairs, Harry slower than the others, but they kept the pace more happy to chat than rush anywhere.

Especially seeing as it was the weekend.

“Before breakfast?” Marietta gaped, “That’s just stupid,” scowling in exasperation, honestly, she didn’t understand why anyone liked Quidditch. It was violent and a complete and utter waste of time. Time spend better on education, she was surprised any Ravenclaw would elect to join.

“I’m sure they ate before going to the pitch,” Padma said wryly, rolling her eyes unseen by Marietta, who was actually older than them. She was best friends with Cho Chang but they’d had a very, very public falling out yesterday, hence why they suddenly had a shadow with them today. With her being older, none of them wanted to tell her to go away.

Harry suppressed a grin, when Marietta just rolled her eyes again not seeing the sarcasm for what it was. For someone in Ravenclaw she was…not the brightest Lumos in a wand. In fact, he’d heard she was in the lowest percentile in Ravenclaw but hardly the worst student to wander Hogwarts walls.

“Oh, did you get your Defence homework done?” Padma asked, they never waited to the weekend to get their homework complete. They normally did it the very same day it was given out unless they had other extracurricular activities that got in the way.

“Yeah,” Harry nodded, “How about you?”

“Yeah, but I still need to write another paragraph at least,” Padma answered, “Just to push it past the length required.” Which was difficult she couldn’t think of anything else to write, so she was going to re-read everything then try, if not she would just restart her homework and do it all over again.

“Hurry up, I’m getting hungry,” Marietta grumbled out, slightly farther ahead of them, getting impatient.

“Go ahead of us,” Sue retorted immediately, unimpressed, everyone knew Harry was a slow walker, that he’d been sick just before Hogwarts started up. He hadn’t told them exactly what had been wrong, but they didn’t need to be geniuses to see that he’d lost weight and had evidently been really sick. “We’ll go at our own pace,” stepping right next to Harry in a show of solitary.

Marietta huffed out her displeasure before stomping off, already making plans to apologise to Cho. She knew Cho wouldn’t do it, so it left it up to her. Plus, none of the others would talk to her if she was on the outs with Cho which was unfair. They had actually been her friends first, she’d known them longer.

“Thank goodness for that,” Sue whispered in relief, “I don’t know who’s worse, her or Cho,” the girls were menaces and bullies.

“Definitely Cho,” Harry declared, “Especially with her stuck up nose, I’m surprised she isn’t constantly tripping up!”

Sue, Harry and Padma burst out into hysterical laughter as they made their way down another level.

-------0

The buzzing of Corvus’ alarm clock begin to extract Corvus from a very pleasant sleep. Stretching out, ignoring the creaking of his old bones, for his age he was in fantastic shape if he didn’t say so himself. Now, why was the alarm on? He had no reason to be up, he grumbled still half a sleep, only for his eyes to open wide, it was Saturday, Saturday was the only day he had alarms going unless he had early meetings within the Wizengamot. His sons, he was going to get to see his sons today, both with privacy for the first time.

Heart pounding, Corvus all but leapt from his bed, excitement and apprehension getting the better of him. Harry had said he was very groggy, but considering he’d applied to have Rodolphus as chaperone, he should be pulled from his cell an hour before their meeting, just like Rabastan was, hopefully that would make him a little more clear headed.

The weekend for Corvus had not come soon enough, an entire week, seven days, 168 hours. Fortunately, he had kept himself busy, extremely so, between reading information and writing out pieces of legislation. When he wasn’t talking to Harry that was, he always replied, he wanted Harry to know he was important that he was worthy, after the abuse he suffered it was vital he understood these things.

He hastily got dressed, but made sure he was dressed impeccably all the same. He never ventured outside unless he was in a suitable attire worthy of the Lestrange name. He wondered if Harry had received his gift yet, and what he thought of it. Shaking off his wayward thoughts, he exited his bedroom and made a beeline for breakfast, there was no rush, he had forty-five minutes before he needed to be at Azkaban. His sons. He was going to see his sons. Part of him could still hardly believe that Harry had come up with a solution that was so blatantly clear that he felt like smacking himself for not thinking of it.

Yes, Harry was smart, and each day he proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Some of the things Harry actually said, he’d gone and repeated at the Wizengamot meeting. He was very articulate for an eleven-year-old boy, but he suspected it was due to the fact he’d never had any friends. Thus he wasn’t familiar with the lingo. Only hearing teachers and those despicable muggles talking to him or strangers he passed in the street or those on the play – television he thought Harry called it – screens. Harry had tried to get him to understand but Muggle things were just so alien.

In fact, Harry and he had gotten into quite a lengthy debate about the Human Rights Law. Interpretation what it could mean, in what ways it could be utilised. How best to argue the fact to ensure it was used, and by Merlin, the boy was brilliant for his age. Quite frankly, Harry should most definitely go into law, and become a lawyer. If he was that good at eleven, he honestly didn’t want to be on the wrong side of him when he was older. It was obvious though that he was more familiar with Muggle laws than Magical. Not that Corvus would ever deride him for it, after all it was due to that, that Corvus was making the strides he was at the moment.

Oh, he knew he would have to go slowly, ease them into it, but even if he could only get the dementors presence reduced this year he would consider it a win. Not that there was much time left of the year, September was almost done as it trickled closer into October. Hell, his legislations might not come into effect for a while yet. Reducing the Dementors did indeed mean more guards within Azkaban prison. Understandably, there wasn’t a large group volunteering, after all who would desire to be on that bleak island day in and day out? The pay definitely more than made up for it, for those desperate enough.

This would work. He would make sure of it. Merlin help anyone who got in his way.

“Master’s breakfast,” came the voice of his House-elf bringing Corvus out of his musings, giving a curt nod, he sat down at his breakfast table ready to eat. As he did so, he mused on how best to have Rodolphus informed of everything. If he was anything like Rabastan…it could have the potential to be a rather tense meeting.

Which was something he didn’t want, he wanted Harry to like his sons, like him, not just to extend the contract in four years…but he wanted everyone he cared so deeply about to get along. Yes, he cared about Harry just as much as he did his sons, the boy had wormed his way into his heart, and it wasn’t something easily done. For what Harry had done for him…it was no less deserved really. Harry was a brilliant, bright, insightful lad who deserved all the care in the world and Corvus was determined to see it provided.

Quite frankly, Severus’ question bore a striking reality if Harry had not received any aid. ‘You don’t suspect he might turn evil’ yes, if he’d let that hatred turn him completely, remaining stuck under Dumbledore’s control, Harry could very well have become a truly twisted soul. Remaining with the Dursley’s with Dumbledore controlling everything including his fortune, future and seats…with there being absolutely nothing he could do. Hatred and rage would have twisted him, with no goal in mind other than making them pay. At least the Dark Lord had goals to see through from a young age. Perhaps, the goals Harry had now would have helped, but whether those goals would have aspired while under Dumbledore’s thumb or not…well, one would truly not know.

No, he wouldn’t think on it any longer, for it would not become a reality, he would ensure it. He would keep Harry anchored himself if he must. Dark he could handle, and if Harry became dark then very well, he did not mind at all. Evil or light made him shudder, both were extremely unappealing, he wasn’t sure which one he’d prefer at the end of the day.

A quiet chime had him glancing at the time, abandoning the remnants of his breakfast, he stood. It was time for him to depart for Azkaban. Harry would be making his way there in a few minutes, and he was always there first to ensure Harry’s safety and wellbeing. Well, except for last week of course, but unfortunately, it had been unavoidable.

Both were unequivocally important to him, getting measures put in place at Azkaban and seeing his son – sons now – both intermingled in a way. Especially since he knew he would have to take his time and think of something that would ensure his sons freedom before the trial was given. He’d rather have the laws changed before trial of their own was enacted. That way…it wouldn’t be a life sentence they’d receive without the chance of freedom in the end. That’s only if he couldn’t come up with a way to ensure their freedom before.

Pressing the Portkey around his neck – which only activated on a Saturday of course – and murmured the password. The naval yanking sensation no longer bothered him. He had been using Portkey’s since childhood, and before long he would himself standing in front of the guards of Azkaban prison. Neither were particularly surprised to see him. Although the older wizard looked particularly petulant today and he idly wondered if Harry had anything to do with it.

“Good morning,” Corvus said blankly, giving both a curt nod, nobody could say he wasn’t at the very least civil. Plus, one never knew when being civil to someone could come in handy in the course of ones life.

“Lord Lestrange,” they too nodded and murmured their greetings, as always rather sullen in appearance, but working on the island…it was hardly surprising that they weren’t shall we say happy?

Corvus had to refrain from allowing the sour look to appear on his face, he loathed Azkaban to the depth of his soul. He had always thought it was a good deterrent, to stop wizards and witches running amok or rather getting caught. That it was necessary, due to the power they had to ensure there was something so terrifying that nobody wished to do anything so evil as to end up in prison for life. He’d been a naïve little fool back then. A naïve underage little fool at that, he knew better now. There was ways to punish someone without destroying who they were. All they hoped to become.

As always, he wasn’t ever there alone long before another presence appeared in a whirlwind. Harry remained standing, not even looking slightly dizzy. Corvus’ eyes light up with pride, he had come a long way, he was gratified by the progress. “Harry,” Corvus said, his lips twitching just so, in a show of pride that only the child could see.

“Corvus!” Harry said, his voice cheerful and sounding so young, when he first met he hadn’t just stank of desperation but had sounded it. Then suspicious then wary but it seemed with his guards down, ironic given where they were, he sounded every bit the eleven-year-old he was. His eyes though, his eyes revealed an old soul, a boy forced to become a man before his time.

“Hi,” his tune changed when speaking to the guards, professional, without any emotion as he passed the large box still in his hands despite the portkey he’d just taken. He’d become quite a pro at it. Waiting patiently for them to declare the contents of the box free to take in. Upon seeing the pillow the guard gave him an odd look but Harry just stared back expectantly and unrepentantly.

“Good morning,” the younger guard said, while the older one checked everything thoroughly.

“Morning,” the second guard said almost grudgingly, before passing the box back with a grunt, everything was clear. Honestly, he wasn’t sure how Harry Potter of all people could aid the Lestrange’s in giving them anything. His cell had throws, books and boxes filled with items all the time normally food. Rabastan no longer needed escorted bodily towards the room. He walked on his own free will, now pillows, it wasn’t a day spa and quite frankly out of all people the Lestrange’s didn’t deserve it. Admittedly, there were worse prisoners. It wasn’t the fact the Lestrange’s were getting things that truly bothered him though, it was the fact that it was the Harry Potter that was doing it.

“Thank you,” comments like that did not help, Harry Potter was always unfailingly polite, even when demanding something.

A curt nod was all he received in reply, after all they weren’t here to converse with him. What or rather who they wanted lay behind the closed door to his right, upon opening it, he allowed them entrance to the room which allowed privacy, the silencing spells around it prevented them from hearing anything from within.

The second the door was closed and Corvus was no longer observed, he all but leapt at his eldest son. Grabbing him in what could only be described by Harry as a bear hug. It was desperate, loving and one of a man who hadn’t seen his son in a long time. All of which was very true, Harry watched the scene in front of him with a fond smile on his face. Before ambling towards his seat, sliding into it, and placing the box onto the table.

“Father,” was murmured quietly but desperately from Rodolphus as he returned the hug. Eyes tightly closed, relishing in the contact and warmth that was so absent in his life.

“I’ve got you,” Corvus murmured repeatedly, it wasn’t easy to keep a fully grown wizard up, even if he was underweight, but Corvus did not care. It was worth any muscle strain in the world, how he wished he could get them out of this damn prison, but baby steps, he’d accomplish his goals. “I’ve got you.”

Easing his head back to stare at his son, he looked a little more coherent this time. He didn’t doubt Harry’s word at all, but he’d been taken from his cell without being allowed to come out of the mental torture and anguish the Dementors caused. This time he had, and it was evidently enough to make him a little more aware today.

“It’s been another year?” Rodolphus murmured, “How is Rabastan here? What’s going on?”

Rabastan’s face became grim, evidently his brother did not remember last weeks meeting at all. Those were the questions he’d asked last time. At least he wouldn’t be under the belief that they had lost their father seeing as he was right in front of them he consoled himself at the insight of his brothers mental state.

“No, Rodolphus, do you not remember last week?” Corvus informed him quietly, as he eased him back into his seat. Gripping Rabastan’s hand tightly, giving him some form of comfort as well. “You spent an hour with Rabastan,” but the incomprehensible look on Rodolphus’ face indicated he didn’t remember even a glimpse of it.

“The betrothal contract,” Harry pipped in, “You’re going to be my chaperone so you can see both your brother and father every week.”

That seemed to spark something in Rodolphus, as awareness and realization crept forth.

They gave him the time he needed to remember, as Rabastan as always greedily took chocolate from the box. It was always one of the first things he took, “No hot chocolate?” he refused to believe he was pouting, but considering the smothered look of amusement on Harry’s face…he probably was.

“It’s in there,” Harry said, unable to stop himself grinning like a loon, “I found a spell to stop it spilling!” ever the Ravenclaw, had practiced dozens of times too. Very pleased and close to preening that Rabastan liked his hot chocolate enough to ask for it. They Dursley’s ate the food he prepared and cooked but never gave him the time of day or showed any signs that they were pleased with him. Heaven forbid. Not that this was what Rabastan was doing but it was close enough to make Harry feel accomplished and happy. Even here in Azkaban prison where happiness was difficult to find.

“How were your classes this week?” Rabastan asked as he rummaged around in the box, almost drooling over the prospect of Harry’s Hot Chocolate. He wasn’t sure what he put in it, but it was delicious, it helped even hours after going back to his cell before the effects of the dementors managed to creep back in.

“Who the hell are you?” Rodolphus demanded, or tired, his voice was much too weak and hoarse to have the intended impact.

“You don’t remember?” Harry said with an innocent look on his face.

Rodolphus narrowed his eyes, “You didn’t say who you were,” he declared, shifting slightly, despite being sitting down, he ached so much that it was almost blindingly painful. He jumped when a flagon of Hot Chocolate was placed in front of him, the noise startling him. it shouldn’t have, Azkaban was so noisy, the screaming, the banging, the yelling, you knew they had given up when they went quiet…quietness wasn’t a good thing on the island.

Quietness meant giving into the madness that permeated the air.

“That’s good, you’re remembering, it means you’re mind hasn’t been affected by what the Dementors are doing long term…yet.” Harry said, with a sympathetic – but not pitying – look on his face. “I read a medical book on the effects the Dementors can have, especially on the mind…it’s rather daunting and disgusting just how much information they have. It’s like people have watched the suffering and madness of others just to write about it.”

“You did?” Corvus asked, not sure whether he was stunned or not, “You’re thirst for knowledge, truly knows no bounds.” He was going to have a very eclectic taste in books when he’s older that’s for damn certain. He narrowed his eyes even further, “What are you planning?” his cunning was the only thing that outshone his thirst for knowledge. Oh, he’d only seen bits and pieces of it naturally, since it took a long time for Harry to truly come out of his shell and trust him. What he had seen was spectacularly good, he didn’t do it for his own amusement, he did it for his protection, his survival. How on earth did Harry understand half the words that was bound to be in the book? How high was his IQ? Just how smart was he?

“Nothing,” Harry declared, “Yet,” he mumbled, but he was of course, heard by the three Lestrange’s in the quietness of the room.

Rabastan just laughed a little, shaking his head, the boy was quite stubborn really. More so than he or even Rodolphus had been at that age. Given the differences in the upbringing…well, he couldn’t say he was entirely surprised. He’d always thought abuse made the recipients terrified, scared of their own shadow, malleable, eager to trust, desiring someone to be kind to them for the first time in their lives. He’d been more than proven wrong with his wonderful betrothed, as temporary as the arrangement was.

“Who are you?” Rodolphus actually groused, groused! As the Heir – one day Lord – to the Lestrange family such actions were seen as plebeian and impatient. He hadn’t groused since he was in school, and surrounded by his friends only in private. Where it was acceptable, although here he was with family was acceptable too.

“I reckon the old man needs glasses,” Rabastan teased, once again, at his brothers expense. Admittedly he hadn’t initially recognized Harry but his head had been down. he’d heard his name before he actually saw him, which might have affected how he saw the boy. Perhaps someone who didn’t know who he was wouldn’t see Potter overly much.

“Shut it!” Rodolphus managed to get out, an impressive scowl on his face.

“You shut it,” Rabastan just had to get the last word in.

“No, you,” Rodolphus added, a tight smile temporarily appearing on his face at the old argument they’d had as children rearing to the fore. Merlin help him, he’d missed his family so, so much.

Corvus watched his sons bicker back and forth playfully, voices hoarse, eyes gleaming with not quite bubbling happiness but contentment. Corvus wanted to close his eyes and just cast his mind back to better times with these noises were made as well. He didn’t close his eyes, just relishing in the fact he was actually seeing both his sons together for the first time in a decade.

Corvus paused when he caught sight of Harry’s face, Merlin help him, he looked completely shattered. It was obvious that Harry was happy for them, but he was obviously dwelling on what he did not have. A little bit of jealousy was there with an encompassing sadness that being alone could accomplish. He should know, he’d felt it for nearing a decade before this boy in question had entered his life and given him a renewed sense of purpose, in more than one way. Raising Harry, giving him ways to fight for his sons – without realizing it at the time but still doing it nonetheless – thank merlin for Harry’s understanding of the Muggle justice system.

Unable to help himself, Corvus who was sitting next to him, brought the boy into a hug. Giving him the reassurances that he wasn’t alone, there was no need to verbalise the words, the understanding was there so clearly in the possessive way Corvus hugged him.

Rodolphus, when he noticed, let out a sound close to that of a dying whale, causing Rabastan to snort in amusement. Oh, he knew what had caught Rodolphus’ attention, their father wasn’t one for giving physical contact to others. Especially ones that weren’t close family, the most he accepted was the occasional pat on the back – both giving and receiving – and handshaking. It let Rodolphus know just how his father felt for this boy without any words or discussion necessary.

Rodolphus swallowed thickly, staring into his fathers’ eyes before nodding once, slowly, grimly, understandingly. He was pleased that his father had someone who cared about him and him caring in turn. He just sincerely hoped his father wasn’t about to make the kid the heir or some shit, but no, his father wouldn’t be so easily manipulated by anyone especially not a kid. Although, the way things were going, it wasn’t as if the fortune would ever be his or theirs. He’d be getting money for the betrothal contract anyway, hopefully that would be enough.

He knew how greed could get the better of anyone though…and Rodolphus begun to worry as each scenario played out in front of him. The thought of losing his father or worse…his father homeless and penniless because of manipulation caused his heart to pound dangerously. “Who is he?” he demanded of his father, which house did he belong to? Was it one of those houses that had all but sunk into obscurity without a few galleons to rub together?

Corvus frowned at the barely concealed panic and fear in his sons’ eyes, now what on earth could be causing that? There were too many things that could be running through his sons mind right now for Corvus to dare be able to pinpoint the true worry and fear. “Rodolphus, what is going through your mind?” Corvus murmured carefully, the desire to help his son so strong.

Rabastan pressed their shoulders together, he knew how disorientating it was in the beginning. Especially with the re-emergence of emotions. Azkaban took them away from you, but contact from the outside world, time away from the dementors and proper food…well it allowed you to come back to yourself. Emotions came back, after not experiencing much of anything for nearing a decade well it was confusing sometimes. Emotions overlapped, causing anxiety, anger, rage, fear and a lot of other emotions that would have rendered a normal wizard catatonic. He had been lucky, the potions Harry put into the hot chocolate helped him, he knew there was a calming draught in there along with a nutrition potion. Although, that might have something to do with his father, not Harry, since his father was the one that got the potions for him. “Drink the hot chocolate,” Rabastan instructed, giving him a little nudge.

Rodolphus’ fear was aimed at the lack of information on who Harry was. Corvus assumed, quite accurately, but for all the entirely wrong reasons. Only because Rodolphus’ fears were not only ludicrous but extremely unlikely to happen. Corvus wasn’t a man easily conned, and he had faced bigger and badder foes.

“My name…is Harry Potter,” Harry said, his tone resigned, his body ridged, tense, ready to flee at any given moment. Rabastan and Corvus had signed contracts not to hurt him, but he knew Rodolphus had not signed such a contract. Which means he could hurt him if he wanted, and Harry was still healing from all the Dursley’s had done to him and quite frankly…he didn’t relish the prospect of new hurts. He’d sworn when he came here he would never let such a thing happen.

Thankfully Harry had been waiting for something to happen so he had been prepared to jump out of his seat and leap away from Rodolphus. Who had been fully about to strangle him judging by the hands that had been reaching for his neck. Corvus’ hands had belatedly gripped his sons wrists, a little too harshly than he would have liked in his anger and disappointment, and Rabastan was slower than his father, only able to grab him by the back of his Azkaban jumpsuit. He’d been surprised by Harry’s words, not really expecting them. He’d thought the boy would keep up the ruse for a while longer, he’d thought wrong.

Harry touched his neck where Rodolphus’ elongated nails and managed to touch. He could feel the scratches but he hadn’t broken the skin. Irritation and anger boiled within him, he was so angry, no furious with Rodolphus with everyone reacting to him in a certain way. Either gaping at him, wanting to study him, revering him or loathing him enough to try and attack him.

Rodolphus was throttling at the mouth, snarling like a wounded beast as Corvus tried to get him seated again. Worried that the damn guards would come in and put an end to the meeting before it truly begun. “Enough, Rodolphus, enough!” Corvus demanded in a way only a father could in order to get through to their disobedient child. “Calm down!” feeling heat at his back, he turned around confused only to still completely.

Harry was standing there, a look of utter fury on his face, magic flaring brightly, as he lost control of his magic.

He wasn’t the only one to feel it, Rabastan and Rodolphus felt it too, that much power in an eleven-year-old boy was…unusual. Both brothers choked when they felt their mark twinge for the first time in a decade. It brought Rodolphus back to himself, and he reared back, sitting down looking absolutely terrified.

-------0

Back at Hogwarts, Lord Voldemort, situated on the back of Quirrell’s head, bored and almost asleep, as Quirrell graded the school work, suddenly saw Corvus, Rabastan and Rodolphus in his mind along with a surge of power that caused his entire being to ache before it disappeared as if it had never happened.

“My Lord?” Quirrell whispered afraid, sensing rather than feeling anything that his Master had. Sensing just how out of sorts his Lord was.

“Continue your work, Quirinus,” Voldemort demanded, his tone thoughtfully instead of fearful. Now just how had that happened? Were his followers calling to him? It should not be possible, it wasn’t possible but there was no denying that it had happened.

He did have a feeling it would happen again, and he would find out what had caused it.

The excitement of a mystery surged through him, Voldemort liked nothing more than a mystery.

----------0

Corvus let go of Rodolphus, heart pounding at the feel of such immense amount of magic wielded by an uncontrolled wizard. He had to calm Harry down immediately before he did something destructive. To add to his worry and fear? Magic – not even non-verbal or wandless – should be capable of being used within the prison. There were magic dampeners all around the prison, to prevent occasions like this, accidental magic being used to break out. Quite frankly, he wasn’t sure his old friend – and lord – had wielded such power at eleven.

Rabastan reared back in his seat, watching Harry with a combination of emotions crossing his face. From awe to fear, with a smattering of disbelief thrown in for good measure. His Lord…he hadn’t felt magic like that since his Lord. Just how powerful was Harry Potter? And this was all before he was magically mature. Merlin, he was going to be absolutely breathtakingly wonderful.

“Harry? Please calm down,” Corvus said, as he pressed forward towards the teen despite the uncomfortable heat exuding from the boy. He liked to think the boy wouldn’t hurt him, but given his state of mind, his shaky control, Corvus wasn’t sure Harry was in any state of mind to tell friend from foe. “You’re safe, I won’t let anyone harm you,” although he suppose his son had already done that.

Corvus threw his son a deeply disappointed look over his shoulder before he finally got to the soon-to-be teenager. Delicately touching his neck, relived to see it was not too bad, the skin hadn’t been broken to the extent there was any blood. The scratches were visible though, wrapping his hand around the back of Harry’s neck, he guided the teen into his arms and wrapped the teen in the warmth of human contact. “Your emotions are getting the better of you, making your magic act up. Close your eyes and calm down, meditate, don’t let your powers control you, you control them.” he waited calmly and patiently, but nothing worked.

Harry was either incapable of reigning his magic in or wasn’t capable of listening.

“You have a lot of power in that body of yours, Harry, I’m proud of you and your control.” Corvus revealed, relaxing when he felt the power dim even only a little. Harry was definitely listening. So, praise seemed to get through to Harry more than logic right now. “It’s very impeccable, the control you hold over your magic, the only reason it’s happening is because of your emotions and your age.” Which was true, he’d locked down his emotions to survive the Dursley’s to an extent, now that he was free, he felt a lot more, and thus his magic reacted to it. plus, he was coming up to that rebellious age, puberty, he doubted very much Harry would have much in the way of rebellion the way children normally did.

Harry successfully managed to reign himself in, his chin jutting out, refusing to feel bad for losing control. Even if he did look somewhat sheepish and a little embarrassed by his lack of control. Although seeing the look from around Corvus’ body, from where he was peering at them through his arm and chest he stared in surprise. Both brothers had a look on their faces that he was unfamiliar with…but it made him feel…smug, happy, content.

“This will not happen again, are we clear Rodolphus? I will not risk Harry’s health and happiness,” Corvus declared strongly, after letting go of the boy and turning to face his son. “Even if it means striking you off from being chaperone.” He wouldn’t do it, of course he wouldn’t, but he had to impress upon his seriousness to his sons that he wouldn’t tolerate Harry being hurt again. Especially not by his sons, when he was doing so much for them. Plus, Harry could strike the contract off, and he would lose visitations to Rabastan as well. He couldn’t borne that at all.

Rodolphus felt as though he’d been sucker punched, oh, he knew his father didn’t mean it. It was the implication behind it that hit him the hardest. Even his brother was silent on the subject, and he wondered what on earth he had missed to make his father and even brother fond of Potter.

Harry turned to face Corvus a look of awe on his face, he didn’t believe Corvus would stop it any more than Corvus himself did but the fact he said it…meant more than anything else had this far. There was a way to ensure it didn’t happen again, “I want him to sign the same document you and Rabastan did.” He declared, especially the silence clause.

Corvus nodded thoughtfully, “That is a very good idea, I shall have the goblins draw one up for us next week.” In complete agreement, this would probably be the easiest way.

“What document?” Rodolphus asked, the shock of his father’s actions, coupled with the immense magic had brought him out of his rage fuelled haze. The feel of that magic alone – and coupled with the fact he could actually use magic here – made Rodolphus think again about approaching Harry with the intent to hurt. His father’s warning truly didn’t come into it, but did cement the fact his father cared very deeply for the boy. He still felt cautious though, but so very grateful that his father wasn’t going to be losing the family fortune. Potter had no need for the Lestrange fortune, if anything the Potter fortune was probably close up to the Lestrange fortune.

That was what he thought, the reality was, the Potter fortune was greater than the Lestrange one, despite the estate bringing nothing but interest in for the past decade.

And so Corvus easily and simply explained to his son what the ‘document’ entailed. The incident put behind them, but not forgotten. They only had so long, and Corvus did not want the little slip up to mar the opportunity he was getting to see his sons.

“Have you already read that book?” Harry asked Rabastan as he nosed around the box, his hot chocolate finished, as Corvus explained everything to Rodolphus. Rabastan didn’t pay much attention, it was already information he was very much aware of. Although hearing everything those muggles had done to Harry again – now that he was beginning to care – caused a surge of rage to flow though him.

“I don’t think so,” Rabastan admitted, his brow wrinkled as he stared at the book. The title wasn’t familiar to him, but he had read a lot of Ancient Rune books, heck there was probably dozens of them packed into his room at home in Lestrange Manor. He would find out, he continued to re-read everything Harry had brought him, it kept his mind focused less susceptible to the Dementors presence.

“The filthy Muggles did what?!” Rodolphus snarled, frothing at the mouth once again, hands clenched.

“Why is it that Muggles hurting me is worse than…well Voldemort,” Harry asked, a poleaxe look upon his face. He truly did not understand it, how was it that his abuse could make even Rodolphus change his tune so quickly? He’d tried to strangle him five minutes prior, so sue him for not getting it.

“You’re never going to stop saying that name are you?” Rabastan drawled in exasperation. No matter how many times he’d warned the boy he wouldn’t stop using that term.

“Anyone stupid enough to use that name got a very nasty visit from us last time.” Rodolphus said, a bloodthirsty look on his face. “They didn’t live to tell the tale.” Which was true enough. It was always Order members, the Dark Lord had been quite smart to realize they’d use his name and it worked in being able to defeat them.

“A Geis?” Harry perked up, Rodolphus reared back, the boy was odd…usually that look had everyone scurrying away terrified. Yet this boy looked excited, yes, definitely something wrong with him. Added to the fact a boy just new to the magical world – or so they believed – knew about an obscure magic?

“How is it you’ve read about Geis?” Corvus asked calmly, not as speechless as his sons, but only just.

“It was mentioned in a book about charms,” Harry said pensively, “but the book didn’t explain anything about the Geis or what it was. So, I hunted the library until I found something…ironically enough there was a book in the common room that told me more about it.”

“Of course,” Corvus replied wryly, Harry had a thirst for information he hadn’t seen in anyone for such a long time. He wasn’t even sure the Dark Lord himself had such a thirst for knowledge at eleven, not the way the boy did. “You amazing, brilliant, lad,” saying lad instead of boy due to knowing Harry did not like that word overly much. He knew why of course, he had been there, it’s all they had been calling him, except for the word ‘freak’.

Harry blushed bright red, but smiled, refusing to look down or away, he was proud of his accomplishments. Corvus said there was nothing wrong with being proud of himself, and it was no reason or excuse to looking embarrassed or ashamed.

Rodolphus watched the boy closely, seeing bits of Potter in him, but for most part he actually took after the Black family. He was thin, almost as thin as he and Rabastan were, to think he’d thought that this slip of a boy was responsible for the defeat of the Dark Lord? After all these years, what happened that night finally, finally made sense. He along with the Dark Lord were the last heirs of Salazar Slytherin. They were incapable of killing each other, if he’d killed the boy first then went after James the same thing would have happened. Unless, you had to be a Parselmouth to be considered Slytherin’s heir, which the boy was according to his father. He was beginning to see him in a whole new light.

“As for your earlier question…” Corvus begun, a thoughtful look on his face. Irritate with himself for not having explained this earlier. Wondering on how to best make the eleven-year-old understand, truly understand in a way he would get. Obviously the concept of how cherished children were just wasn’t getting through to him.

Rodolphus frowned before he realized what his father was talking about, the boy had mentioned something about why he was reacting the way he had. Wasn’t is self-explanatory? For all his smarts, he couldn’t think like an abused child unfortunately, for he’d never experienced it and he held no empathy for others except those he loved.

“Our community is so small compared to the overall population, in fact, we have the smallest population out of all magical communities around the world.” Corvus explained, “Some of our lines were almost wiped out during Grindelwald’s reign of power. In fact, the Lestrange name was almost completely lost, due to my great grandfather’s actions.”

Harry peered at Corvus, curiosity swimming in his bright green eyes as he listened attentively.

“Each child is considered a gift, to be cherished and loved, most witches have trouble having more than one child, especially the old lines.” Corvus continued his explanation. “A wizard would consider himself lucky to have two children. So, we always ensure their safety and wellbeing.”

“The Weasley’s have more than two,” Harry pointed out, “There’s four of them at Hogwarts,”

“They have seven offspring,” Corvus answered, “The Weasley’s have always been one of the rare exceptions, Septimus Weasley had seven children, just as Arthur Weasley went on to have seven children. Something that should not have been done, they cannot afford two children let alone seven and it prevents others from gaining entrance into Hogwarts with a scholarship due to the fact Dumbledore endues it goes to the Weasley’s.” none of his disgust for the family showing.

Harry’s eyes widened, seven children? “I think it would have been awesome to have siblings,” he declared, “I think people are lucky.” He glanced at the brothers, they were so close, and part of him was envious of their closeness. He couldn’t help but wonder if he would have had siblings if his parents hadn’t taken part in the war.

“Child abuse has severe penalties in the magical world, depending on the severity, one can be sentenced for life in Azkaban for such despicable actions.” Rabastan explained stating it as if he wasn’t sitting in Azkaban right now. “The Dursley’s would never see the light of day again if you chose to press charges.”

“Prison isn’t enough,” Harry stressed the word out, he wanted them to suffer, to suffer so badly that they wished for death before the end. While prison would hurt them, it wouldn’t hurt as much as he planned, or wanted to plan anyway. He knew everything Corvus was doing to them, he was told. Each time he heard of something Corvus had done it filled him with glee and happiness that he had someone so firmly ensconced on his side. To begin with he’d just wanted away from them, but experiencing life for the first time…well, who could blame him for being more than just a little vindictive?

He found two vindictive grins staring back at him, they got it, out of all people they would get it.

“I get it, and they will suffer,” Rabastan agreed, his father was probably more vindictive than he and Rod. Only his revenge was subtle, long drawn out, he was patient, even when he didn’t want to be. They could learn a lot from their fathers methods but they were far too impatient themselves for that. Instant gratification wasn’t as fulfilling but it was at the time.

Corvus relaxed back into his seat, listening and watching carefully, it seemed as though he’d gotten through to his son. He was very grateful for that, he didn’t want anything harming this peace he’d found in his life. Rodolphus and Rabastan ate their fill of sandwiches, biscuits and chocolate as they talked. For once, Corvus didn’t put up a silencing spell, instead elected to include Harry fully.

He spoke of his time in the Wizengamot – which wasn’t strictly legal – what his plans were, what he had accomplished thus far and praising Harry effusively for his ideas. Making it known that his ideas were worthy, that he was worthy.

The last thing Rodolphus said to his father at the end of the meeting as he hugged him tightly was ‘I guess you’re right, he is a miracle’ and for the first time in a long time Rodolphus felt hope.

Hope that he wouldn’t lose his mind.

His sense of self, his life.

Hope that there was life for him outside of this hellhole.

The dementors had tried to squash it, take it all, but Rodolphus clung to it desperately, refusing to part with it entirely. It was locked tightly down at the bottom of his being, almost like the ‘hope’ that had been at the bottom of Pandora’s box.

“Where were you? Where did you go?” came the shrieking, scratchy voice of Bellatrix Lestrange.

Rodolphus ignored his wife, he knew it wasn’t aimed at him, at least he didn’t think so. She said it often, and he hadn’t been anywhere during those times. He suspected she was calling out to their Lord in her delirium, wondering ‘where he had gone’ desperately clinging onto hope that he’d come for her, for them.

“Will you shut the hell up you screeching harpy!” croaked the voice of Sirius Black, farther down.

Rodolphus felt a wicked grin split his face almost in two, wondering what Sirius Black would think of his godson. He was almost tempted to tell him everything, but he remembered the contract. If he wanted to tell him…it would need to be now before he signed it. For once he had done so…he wouldn’t be able to discuss the boy with anyone, not even Black.

He had to admit it was very tempting.

 

-------0

Will Rodolphus reveal all to Sirius Black causing him to escape? How did Voldemort get an image of them? Is Harry a Horcrux or will he just have a 'connection' to Voldemort after what happened that night? As Slytherin's last heirs. Will there be any monetary gain to be had? Or will the Slytherin Coffers be empty? Will they find a treasure trove that allows Voldemort more funds for the war? Will the next chapter skip Halloween and go straight to Christmas or will they both be in the same chapter? I still have no clue what to do with Bellatrix but considering how I had 'Rod' ignore her...it might not be all that fond of her! Will she end up with Voldemort in this leaving Rodolphus free to find someone else to marry and have an heir with? Ugh I honestly don't know! I don't think I'll have her killed in this I do it too often so it's just a matter of whether she's utterly insane and unsalvageable - but alive - or putting on a front with a doze of Black madness thrown in! R&R please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 17

Corvus stared down at the book in his lap, his contemplative silence beginning to tick on. He’d been sitting staring at it for half an hour now. Quite frankly, he didn’t know what to write. Or if he even should, as Lucius’ words rang in his ears from weeks ago. Not to be surprised if he didn’t hear from the boy on Samhain. His words to try and lessen the loss while they would be genuine for Harry, wouldn’t be altogether entirely truthful. He was hardly mournful over the death of James and Lily Potter. No, he mourned the defeat of a good friend, one he knew wasn’t dead, not if the Dark Mark was still present, which it definitely was. His sons would have immediately informed him if it had disappeared altogether. It was faded for sure, nearly gone, but still ever present.

Did he wait until Harry wrote? Which he did every day at least once just to give him an update, to reassure him that he was fine and had been sticking to his workouts. Also, events of the day that had happened that piqued his curiosity, and any questions he may have as a result of that. Sighing resignedly, he set the book aside, he could delay no longer lest he be late for his appointment. There was another meeting with the Wizengamot today, one that would determine the outcome of his weeks, no months of labour. He still had no clue as to the outcome, too much unpredictability, which irked him, but one must endure he supposed.

Drawing back the covers, Corvus began his morning routine, which had long since been ingrained. He could do them while asleep, really. Toilet, shower, teeth brushed, hair dried then his best robes for the occasion. Not that anyone would get to see them, he commiserated, as he picked up his gaudy disgusting wizengamot robes, the colour did not go at all with his pale complexion. They would be pulled over his clothes for the meeting, how he envied the Minister for magic on this one thing, he did not need to endure the colour, of course, Fudge probably commiserated on that too. For he seemed to like wearing the most Merlin-awful colours, his lime-green robes were prime example of that, and evidently his favourite given the amount of times he’d had to endure his presence with them on.

The House-elves had his breakfast ready for him, on his plate, there was no need for grandiose when it was just him. They hadn’t discussed Harry coming to the manor for the holidays, so, he wasn’t sure whether Harry would return or not. He liked to think Harry missed him, that he missed the manor, but since that first week at Hogwarts, he hadn’t mentioned missing Lestrange Manor. Hogwarts was a place of safety and happiness for most students, and quite a few of them elected to remain at the school – like his own sons had done in their later years – and remain with friends.

Just as he was finishing up, the House-elf popped in with potion vials and the very familiar box. Accepting them without a word, he ensured all potions were what he needed to send, and the right dosages, ensuring they were still sealed – he had cautioned Harry never to drink a potion with its seal cracked – before placing them in the box. Which he then closed, he would check it later, but he had little doubt he’d find all vials back and empty. While it was conceivable that Harry could forget to take his potions, the pain would ensure that he didn’t.

Pursing his lips, he didn’t like the thought of Harry being in pain, but he was grateful that pain was greatly diminished from what it had been during his first days at Lestrange manor. His lips twitched just remembering Harry’s potion addled displays. He had been adorable really, especially with Rabastan, who had been utterly flummoxed over Harry’s actions.

Just thinking of those early days, caused his mind to drift to the Dursley’s and his ongoing vendetta against those filthy Muggles. He’d had Marge Dursley arrested for a whole slew of crimes, at the front an illegal puppy mill, ‘dog fighting’ which had been entirely fabricated, and neglect of course, and an illegal income (tax always gets you in the end) that hadn’t been declared for decades. Corvus had ensured that those dealing with Marge’s case had a great fondness for animals. Which would ensure maximum penalties.

Vernon’s day in court had come and gone, and he found himself behind bars, unable to do a damn thing for his family. He had pondered on whether to end the waste of space, it would be easy enough to find someone to kill the disgusting animal that Vernon really was. But, no, watching his rage mount as he was unable to help his family was the perfect way to break the despicable man. Marge Dursley would soon join him, and Petunia would be homeless, and that fat disgusting tub of lard that looked more pig than human would be in the care of child services. Perhaps then, the boy would actually have a chance to live past his twentieth birthday.

He wanted to do more, to end the filth that was staining the earth with every breath they took. Unfortunately, his boy, wanted them to suffer. He couldn’t deny Harry his wish, and so he would just continue his actions until Harry decided he wanted them dealt with – permanently. Although, he suspected Harry would wish to deal with them himself, which would require an unshakable alibi when the time came. His recent illegally acquired time-turner would do that just fine.

Corvus took one glance at the time before yanking his Wizengamot robes before Apparating to the Atrium of the Ministry of magic. One couldn’t just Apparate into the meeting room or the courtrooms for that matter. the only reason he could actually Apparate to the Atrium was because he was a wizengamot member. Everyone else who wasn’t a worker there had to use the Muggle entrance of use the Floo network to get in.

Annoyance thrumming through him, he hastily got his disgusting plum coloured robes over his pristine back robes. If he thought he’d have any success, he’d press for the change of the old-fashioned robes, regretfully they were steeped in tradition, and very unlikely to agree to such a ‘trivial’ matter. Which it was really, compared to everything he had lined up.

“Blessed be,” was murmured by his acquaintances as he passed, “Blessed Samhain,” was also used. It was all done very quietly, the old ways of the magical world wasn’t done often now. Another reason for the war, the influx of damn Muggle-Borns had seen the rapid reduction of all those traditions they held most dear. Instead Muggle traditions were being incorporated in order to accommodate the Muggle-borns belief’s. It had as always begun at Hogwarts, and before long Dumbledore let it spiral out of control.

Corvus gave his own greetings to those who gave their own, completely ignoring anyone who dared to say ‘Happy Halloween’ finding it very insulting. They weren’t Christians for Merlin’s sake, they were pagan, Celtic, the fact they were so chipper added to the insult really. Samhain was celebrated tomorrow, traditionally on November first, but it had been incorporated a long time ago with ‘Halloween’ or as he preferred All Hallows’ Eve.

“May your Samhain be blessed,” Lucius greeted, just as they met up at the corridor, both making their way directly to the meeting room.

“May yours be also,” Corvus said properly, giving a small smile in return, Lucius looked worse than he did in those plum robes. “Blessed be,” and with that Lucius opened the door, and allowed Corvus entry first, showing he held Corvus in a higher regard than him. Some things ingrained from the Dark Lord days were unshakable. No matter how many years had passed since they observed it.

Corvus listened to the greetings but paid hardly any attention, not even to those who were talking about taking their grandkids, trick or treating like common muggles. Barbaric tradition, going out begging for treats like some sort of dirty beggar. They were traitors to all things allowing their children to allow such atrocities let alone going along with it. In his ruminations he almost missed the beginning of the votes from Chief Warlock Lord Ogden.

In an odd turn of events, they seem quite eager to get the meeting over with instead of trudging along.

“Is there anything you wish to discuss before the vote is cast?”

“What if we agree to the lessening of the Dementors hours, if we decide, and we cannot find guards willing to take their places within Azkaban?” one of the wizengamot members sounded extremely worried about that, her fuzzy red hair more unkempt than usual.

“That I can answer, I already have dozens of candidates signing up,” Willard explained, and he had been well paid and compensated for his hours of overtime.

“You’ve got to be joking Willard!” cried Doge disgusted, “You’re all for this change?”

“It’s the law, Doge,” Willard spat out, “We aren’t above it, it’s our job to enforce it.” it should have been enforced a long time ago. “Speaking of enforced, what has been found out about this travesty?”

“That I would also like to know,” Travers commented, “It’s bad for business, this…inability to keep up.”

“I’ve spoken with Dumbledore, he is very contrite to have been so lax in his duties,” Ogden confessed, “Said he would accept any punishment we see fit to bestow upon him.”

Corvus snorted derisively, and he wasn’t the only one to do so.

“And what punishment awaits Albus Dumbledore?” Lucius drawled dangerously, “I do hope we are not contemplating letting him off for this crime when if it was someone else…they would be penalised most severely.”

Murmurs of agreement from more than half the people rose in the room.

“He will have his day in court and we will have a chance to decide upon a fitting punishment for his crime,” Ogden declared, blustering slightly, clearly having just decided that with everyone so against him getting off.

“It was a simple mistake! It could have happened to any of us!” Doge declared angrily, and Corvus almost laughed when he stomped his foot like a petulant child.

“Dumbledore shouldn’t have had so many different roles, it’s clear he couldn’t keep up with the work load,” Lucius said darkly, “It’s a good thing that he was forced to step down.”

People caught on immediately to what Lucius said, as he desired, “Forced?” those that didn’t know, which was nearly everyone, narrowed in on Lucius.

“He chose step down,” Doge strongly denied, but he could see it wasn’t going to work, everyone was clearly believing Lucius over himself. Then again, he had never been a very good liar, according to everyone, including his family.

“Who could have forced…”

“He wasn’t blackmailed was he?”

“I wonder…”

Ogden cleared his throat, “His trial date has been set,” he informed them, scribbling down on the notebook in front of him. “It will be during the Christmas holidays, that way it won’t disrupt the students schooling. So, I have set it for the 28th of December,” after Christmas but before the New Year. Refusing to discuss Dumbledore’s stepping down with everyone.

It was clear everyone still wanted to discuss it, even those who were always firmly in Dumbledore’s camp much to Corvus’ glee.

“So,” Ogden called loudly, “We shall put a vote into effect, raise your wand lit for Aye, and remain as you are for ‘Nay’ is that clear?” making sure they understood despite the general muttering, repeating himself just once for their sake. He didn’t want to have to call another vote because someone wasn’t paying attention. These votes always raised tensions within the group.

Corvus was one of the first to raise his lit wand, his eyes watching the others like hawks, each twitch of their hand was observed. Mentally counting each and every hand that raised up, it was clear some were conflicted some on which way to vote. As the tally began to even out half in half, he tensed in anticipation, mentally commanding them to raise their wands, to see this through. “Remember, the law is the law, we cannot take it into our own hands, no matter how much we feel the need to punish the guilty,” feeling rather smug over it. They could do whatever they liked, but in the end…he would win.

This was the push required to have the others who had not voted yet, to begin raising their wands, more resigned than happy with their votes. Corvus’ legislation was only pushing through what would naturally happen on its own with the laws that the Muggles had changed over the years while they remained woefully ignorant.

“With a vote of 45 out of fifty-three, the legislation has passed,” Ogden stated sharply, nodding at them to lower their wands.

“Now all that is left is to decide upon the hours Dementors should be within Azkaban and subduing the prisoners,” he continued, causing all of them to pause, they hadn’t thought of that naturally.

“Twenty-four hours a day,” Doge ground out displeased, his beady eyes filled with silent contempt for the lot of them. If Dumbledore was here he would be so disappointed with all of them. He was going to be most displeased when he revealed how this meeting went. These days he was seeing more of his old friend than he had during the war efforts, not that he truly minded, Albus was his best friend after all.

And then begun the arguing back and forth, as each all deciding upon different hours in which the Dementors would oversee Azkaban inmates. Doge most vocal of all, trying to ensure that the Dementors remained on the island for as long as possible. Switching from twenty-four hours to twenty-three, but to his consternation they were arguing for lesser hours between five to twelve hours of the day.

----------0

“Alright, what the hell is wrong with you lot?” Harry stated, slamming his book closed, staring at the others with narrowed determined eyes. “You’ve been acting strange all day!” Draco, Theo, Blaise, Pansy, Millicent and the rest of the gang all jumped as if they’d been electrocuted.

“What? What do you mean?” Blaise questioned, brow furrowed, “We have not!” which was a lie and a half.

“Really? You’ve barely said two words all day!” Harry cried out in annoyance.

“We…” Draco paused, glancing around the others in the common room, Harry as a honorary Slytherin often joined them since he was only one person. Opposed to quite a few Slytherins trudging up to the Ravenclaw common room. even his godfather surprisingly had nothing to say about the times he’d seen Harry in the common room. Then again, after the first class he had ignored Harry according to the boy. “Wouldn’t you prefer that?” he asked, solemnly.

Harry just stared blankly, utterly confused by their words, it wasn’t making it any better.

“We would also understand if you didn’t want to celebrate with us,” Pansy added, with a rare look of sympathy on her face.

Which just irritated and confused Harry further.

“And why wouldn’t I?” Harry ground his teeth in annoyance, someone better start making sense soon or he’d lose it.

“Harry…do you even realize what today is?” Draco asked in a merest whisper, which was heard in the quiet of the Slytherin common room.

“Samhain or Halloween, what of it?” Harry stated curtly.

“Harry tonight is the anniversary of your parents deaths, we just…wanted to be respectful,” Draco answered, whether they cared for the Potter’s or not, they genuinely liked Harry. He was smart, not prejudice and treated them kindly unlike most of the Hogwarts population.

“Although, it would be a shame to miss the spectacle that happens on Samhain, they say a troupe of skeletons will be dancing tonight.” Millicent commented, as if it was a decided matter on whether Harry was attending or not.

“I will be attending the feast,” Harry pointed out, “And you lot better snap out of it before I lose my temper!” and they hadn’t really seen him lose his temper yet. When he got angry, his magic had a tendency to act up, but it was normal according to Corvus, easily controlled by not allowing his emotions to control him.

“Well, alright, if that’s what you want,” Pansy declared, “Did you hear Weasley made a Mudblood cry?”

Harry cleared his throat loudly, giving Pansy the stink eye.

“Fine, Muggle-born,” Pansy sighed resignedly, honestly, it was just ridiculous that she had to sensor herself even in her own common room. She’d been raised to know better than to use those words in mixed company though, so really, she should just be grateful that he’d keep quiet.

“There will be lots of treats at the feast, I’m assuming you’ll be going without?” Blaise asked, aghast at the mere thought.

“I am unable to consume large quantities of sugar,” Harry informed them, “Maybe in a year or so,” he cheered up at that prospect. Although, according to the Healer, he probably would never be able to consume large quantities of sugar. His body might not be able to tolerate it and he might just end up making himself sick.

“I should have had a bigger lunch, I’m starving,” Theodore grumbled, “Hey, Harry did you finish your Charms homework?”

“Yeah, want to look it over?” Harry asked, already digging into his bag and handing the aforementioned charms homework over.

“Brilliant! I’m missing a few things, I just know it!” Theodore grumbled, happily accepting the help from Harry. He wasn’t going to copy his homework, of course not. No, he was just going to make sure his spelling and grammar was right and see what he was missing. “You’re writing is coming along,” he added absently.

“Practice makes perfect,” Harry said, giving him a shark like grin, plus his hands were fully recovered, and no longer in pain or new muscles causing cramp with too much use. Which meant less shaking, less stress to his hands, and better writing in the long run. They all commented on the fact he should be taking classes to ensure ‘they’ the teachers could read his writing during the first week like the rest of the Muggle-borns. He understood Corvus’ desire to see him writing perfectly then.

Draco sniggered, relaxing back, and before long they were all talking over each other and arguing about spells and homework. In other words being themselves for the first time in what was a very, very long day for Harry. He still didn’t get why they had been so quiet not really. He’d never ‘remembered’ his parents on the day of their death, he hadn’t been aware of the particular date. The Dursley’s hadn’t seen fit to inform him, although it explained their more…sour disposition during this time of year.

He’d just assumed it was having to deal with Dudley after consuming vast amounts of chocolate…but what did he know?

“Did you say dancing skeletons?” Harry blurted out over an hour later.

Pansy laughed, “Yeah, they do an extravagant show at the end of the Samhain feast, they say its supposed to be spectacular. I’ve not seen one myself, of course, just heard of it, the others talk about their past experiences.”

“How long does it last?” Harry asked, wrinkling his brow, he had potions to take so he hoped it wouldn’t last too long into the night.

“Hey, Marcus!” Draco called out, “How long does the feast last tonight? Harry wants to know!”

“Barely twenty minutes longer than the usual meals,” Marcus grunted, as always happy to help well…happy might be pushing it. Then again he was trying to finish his homework that was piling up in an unending fashion. NEWTS year sucked, and he hated it, plus he was failing one of the vital classes to start his Mastery which didn’t please him the slightest. He did have a responsibility to the first years, while acting as Head Boy and the endless questions had tapered off somewhat since the start of term.

“Thanks,” Harry murmured, seeing the pressure Marcus was under whereas the others didn’t.

“You’re welcome,” Marcus added sincerely, giving him a grin that looked more threatening than friendly really.

Harry knew Marcus was his healers brother, but they definitely didn’t look alike. They must surely take after each of their parents, who he had understandably never met yet. Rabastan and Rodolphus definitely took after Corvus, there was no denying that. Although, people kept saying he looked like his dad, Corvus had commented to takes after Dorea – and the Black as well as Slytherin, because of his eyes – in actuality if one actually stared at him for longer than a few seconds to see him properly.

“This is good Harry, no mistakes!” Nott said, handing it back over having finished with it. “Well, none that I noticed anyway,” he wasn’t exactly perfect, but he’d done his best.

“You can do mine then,” Draco commanded, shoving his own at Nott with a demanding air around him.

Theodore just groaned dramatically, before shrugging his shoulders good naturally and dug in. he had thankfully written what he’d forgotten (that Harry had written in his own Charms homework) on a spare piece of parchment so he wouldn’t forget. “So, are you sticking with us tonight? Or what?” wondering whether they would have Harry sitting with them or not.

“Yeah, Padma is sitting with Parvati tonight, at least for some of it,” Harry murmured, “As long as you don’t mind!” he added absently his attention clearly cut in two. The homework packed away and the book on his lap being devoured.

“Good luck with that,” was snorted derisively, “Frankly I’d rather jump into the Black Lake than endure a night at the Gryffindor table. They’re intolerable from the Slytherin table never mind actually being nearer.” Millicent was the one who spoke.

“They are rather loud,” Harry agreed, “But we can be as well,” shrugging his shoulders stating the obvious even if it made him unpopular. He was used to the loudness, and was able to ignore it easily enough, Dudley had spent his entire life being loud. Deafening sometimes when he didn’t get his way.

“Where did you get that book by the way?” Draco asked him, with a clear frown on his face, “I’m sure father took that off me before I came to Hogwarts.”

Harry arched a brow, “I didn’t steal if that’s what you’re implying,” sniffing haughtily, causing Draco to sit up indignantly at him.

“I am aware of that,” Draco said huffing in annoyance, knowing Harry was mocking him and reminding him of how he looked when he reacted the way he did sometimes. A stuck up prancing peacock, was the actual term Harry used, Draco was positive he was trying to get him back for what he said about that damn oaf Hagrid. Yet he couldn’t see why he would, it wasn’t as if he interacted with him.

Pansy smothered her amusement, Harry couldn’t stand Draco’s attitude quite often. So, he mocked him – in a mild manner – to remind him what he actually looked like while doing it. It worked for a day or so, but Draco would then need reminded. They all cursed, wondering why they hadn’t thought of it…instead they’d endured Draco’s attitude since they were babies.

“You should all head to the Great Hall, now,” Marcus told them twenty minutes later.

“What…it’s a bit early isn’t it not?” Draco protested, after a single glance at the time.

“If you want to be shoved and smacked into walls, then be our guests,” Marcus said coolly, “The second through fifth years won’t wait around until you’ve designed to move.” Which was true enough, they’d been that excited – inwardly – that it had resulted in a first year being hurt in their overzealousness two years ago, and just because he wasn’t Head Boy didn’t mean it wasn’t his responsibility, which it had been as Prefect. Not that they couldn’t take a bit of being shoved, but Harry Potter definitely couldn’t hence why he’d brought it up.

Judging by Malfoy’s confusion for all of a few seconds before realization sprung, he begun to realize why Marcus had spoken up. He might be young, but he was a Slytherin and had learned from a young age to read between the lines. What someone says might not be what the person meant after all. Plus, they had all been suitably – and not at all subtly – warned to keep Harry safe and out of harms way. Lord Corvus Lestrange had spoken and they would adhere to his rules. They knew better than to get on the wrong side of the Lestranges.

Harry winced at the prospect of being shoved into walls, “I’m heading to the Great Hall,” he commented, having been too immersed in his book to have caught the under currents going on in the common room. The book that Corvus had gifted him going straight into his pocket which was charmed like the boxes he took for Rabastan. He was aware that his magical education was…odd to say the least, with the spells he had learned first and what spells he continued to prefer over the excitement the others professed to have desired to learn and couldn’t wait until the professor demonstrated as such. Harry didn’t understand that particular problem, from particularly Hufflepuff and Gryffindor – Ravenclaw and Slytherin do as they please – instead do it yourself, don’t wait for the professor to show you. Take a book with you to class, read, learn, expand your horizons if you’ve already accomplished what you set out to do. It was utter laziness to wait for the professors to teach you everything. Sure, magic could be dangerous, but not beginners magic, maybe when they got to their N.E.W.T’s year, which by the way he’d had a good laugh at the name.

-----0

When Harry walked into the Great Hall he was surprised to say the least at the spectacle Hogwarts had become overnight. Dozens upon dozens of large pumpkins floated in mid air with candles within them, live bats flying around the rafters. There were so many bats that it was ridiculous, the candles were threatening to blow out due to the shift in air as they flew. Which explained the fact that they Great Hall was much darker than normal, or perhaps it was to make it appear spookier than normal. The plates were golden again, like they had been on the beginning of term feast.

Unsurprisingly, they weren’t the first ones there, a lot of the students had already taken their seats and were chatting animatedly, evidently enjoying the beginning of the Samhain feast.

“Professor Snape looks more annoyed than usual,” Draco murmured, they were aware that Severus Snape was his godfather, so out of them all, Draco knew him best. “I wonder what Dumbledore’s done to aggravate him.”

“Does he need to do anything?” Blaise scoffed, “The old man is annoying by just being there,”

The others couldn’t help but agree.

“Come on, lets sit!” Pansy said, as the food appeared eager to dig into the food, Theo wasn’t the only one hungry, she’d barely eaten anything in anticipation of the feast which was said to be amazing.

“Here’s everyone else,” Theodore commented as he sat down, already piling food onto his plate, and true to Marcus’ words, they were all clamouring to get to the table eager to feast upon the food piled high for everyone.

Harry stared at everything swearing his teeth felt like they were about to shrivel up into his gums looking at the unhealthy food. That and his stomach was about to join them, in a rare move, there was hardly anything he could actually eat that was remotely healthy right now.

“You like potatoes don’t you?” called out a second year Slytherin as Harry stared at the food in front of him, trying to think on what he could eat.

“Yes,” Harry agreed, craning his neck, only to jerk back when a large bowl of mashed potatoes was thrust in front of him, clearly being levitated.

“Thanks,” Harry murmured, pouring more than a generous amount onto his plate, then it was grabbed by someone else who clearly wanted some. He then decided on some chicken, the sauce was far from healthy but it had veggies in it so it would have to do.

“By the way, Mother asked if you’d like to spend Christmas holidays with us,” Draco informed him properly, refraining from eating for a seconds to inform him without speaking with a full mouth. He wasn’t a Weasley and wouldn’t act like one either. “Holidays are always important to us.” Narcissa had grown up with a large family, to have it whittled down to what…two people in had been a shock most horrific a decade ago. The last holiday before it had all gone to hell, with a baby Draco, the Lestrange’s and Lucius of course. It had been a wonderful Yule, and no matter what, Narcissa was unable to recreate that day.

Harry immediately shook his head, “Thank you for the offer, but no thank you,” groaning at the look that graced Draco’s face, he was insulted by his declining the invitation. “Draco,” he added softly, “I’d rather go home for the holidays,” and they all knew by now that ‘home’ he spoke of was Lestrange manor. “I don’t want to leave him on his own…but I’d like to visit?” softening the blow.

Nobody blinked over the fact that Harry was staying at Lestrange Manor. It was proper after all, for ones Betrothed to remain close to family while they oversee the couple’s courting. They did wonder what Harry would do at the end of the contract, he couldn’t really marry Rabastan, well technically he could, but marrying someone who was going to be in Azkaban until his dying breath was…ill-advised. The eleven-year-olds were aware of Corvus’ reputation, no, the Lestrange reputation and the fact Harry wanted to spend time with him did surprise them but not overly much anymore. Harry spoke of Corvus a lot in the safety of Slytherin common room with reverence and happiness.

Draco warmed considerably after that, “I shall let mother know, although I wouldn’t be surprised if she asked herself,” Corvus was family, but he had declined invitations to come to dinner, sort of family, he was the father-in-law to his aunt, Bellatrix who was in Azkaban too along with his sons.

“Okay,” Harry said giving him a smile, grateful that the crisis had been averted. Draco couldn’t half pout when things didn’t go his way. The others had a tendency to go along with Draco when he asked for something. Harry though wasn’t about to leave Corvus on his own to pander to Draco who was a bit too spoiled if you asked Harry. Then again the others were too, but Harry was being spoiled as well, so he couldn’t say anything.

Harry absolutely loved it.

“Merlin, Dumbledore is looking over this way, again,” Pansy complained, suddenly finding herself interested in her food. They all hated the way Dumbledore would stare, he never paid much attention to the Slytherins’, they all knew what he found so fascinating right now.

Harry blatantly looked up, before scowling in annoyance, Dumbledore’s brow wrinkled at Harry’s dismissive actions when it came to himself. His eyes dramatically dimming before he looked heartbroken and looking away. It wasn’t the first time he had seen such a look on the old man’s face, and knew it wouldn’t be the last. “He’s bloody annoying,” Harry grumbled, shaking his head mouth pursed.

“We’re all in agreement there,” Theodore agreed, “Does he stare at you like that when you’re on the…”

“Yes,” Harry replied, not giving Theodore a chance to finish his question, “He even stares when I’m at the Ravenclaw table,” everyone was noticing his unhealthy obsession, and Harry was tempted to inform the appropriate authorities. Dumbledore wasn’t just making him uncomfortable but making him feel bloody paranoid to the extreme.

“I say you should report him,” Draco commented, knowing he was wasting his breath. “Even if nothing comes of it, there is a paper trail to follow should someone else be troubled by the old fool.”

Harry smiled, “That’s true, do you know much about the laws and regulations?” Harry asked, it wasn’t the first time Draco had spoken about the Aurors and regulations that follow.

“Of which department?” Draco then asked.

“Is that normal? To be really only well versed in a certain department?” Harry asked, it’s like only knowing some of the law.

“Well, yes, depending on your job of choice,” Draco confirmed. “Although Aurors and the heads of the department know everything, it is required of them. They must pass the exam with more than ninety percent, the percentage is required, it’s a high stress job. So, it’s vital you know your information.” Eating between answering questions put forth.

“And a lawyer I assume?” Harry asked, as always eager to know information, and if Draco had it who was he to refuse to listen. Forgetting to eat as he conversed with Draco.

“Depending on what kind of lawyer,” Draco answered easily, feeling a little smug that he could bestow his knowledge on Harry – or anyone for that matter – he’d had these lessons ingrained for years. Plus, Harry was related to him, so it was a pleasure to make sure he wasn’t ignorant of anything he should have been raised knowing. It wasn’t his fault he’d been put with disgusting Muggles. “Criminal lawyers have to know everything,” confirming Harry’s thoughts.

“What’s the interest in the Ministry? Plan on running for the office?” Blaise teased, somehow able to be heard over the hubbub that was coming from the Gryffindor table.

“You mean Minister, right?” Harry asked, calmly eating his dinner, or he was until inexplicably, his and everyone’s plates disappeared. Blinking down in astonishment, only to realize that the main meal was over with, “I thought your plate had to be empty before they took it!” extremely put out.

“Yeah, so?” Blaise prompted at the same time as Harry complained.

“No, not here, waiting until every plate is empty would be asking for a miracle,” Pansy explained, “There should be something you can eat for dessert.” She rather hoped so anyway, Harry really hadn’t eaten all that much. It was a good thing he knew where the kitchen was.

“I don’t know…I’ll answer it after I know exactly what it entails being Minister for magic, but I think I’d rather do something in law…” Harry confessed to Blaise, “I’m not the only one who think’s I’d do a good job.” Making a subtle reference to Corvus.

“High praise,” Blaise commented, the others nodded, they too caught the subtle reference.

Harry’s lips twitched, “The best,” the best praise, he absolutely loved it, asking the goblins for aid had been the best thing he’d ever done. Getting the Lestrange’s to agree to the contract – which now included Rodolphus too – was his greatest accomplishment.

“I can see you as a lawyer,” Draco mused thoughtfully, “You certainly have a way with words and…” jumping in fright as the doors of the Great Hall banged open with an almighty crash.

“What the…” they heard Marcus Flint say loudly, as everyone stared at Professor Quirrell launch himself down the Great Hall towards Dumbledore.

“Trolll!! Troll in the dungeon!” Quirrell said, pale and clammy, “T-thought you ought to know…” and with that Quirrell fainted in a heap.

The screaming and shouting that begun afterwards, from even the Slytherins was atrocious, Harry clapped his hands over his ears. Absolute panic drove some of the first years to actual tears, all of them of course, Muggle-Borns, not that the pureblood’s were any better.

“SILENCE!” boomed the voice of Albus Dumbledore, echoing all around the hall of Hogwarts, causing absolute silence to fall. “Nobody panic, prefects, escort the students to the common room,”

Harry’s jaw dropped, as he glanced up at the head table, nobody seemed unduly concerned over what Dumbledore had just said. Except for Snape who was sitting with his eyes boring into Dumbledore’s decidedly furious over that proclamation. None of the Slytherins’ seem surprised by his words which just made Harry furious.

With determination, Harry stomped up towards the front of the Great Hall where the teachers were, weaving in and out of peoples way as he made his way up to his Head of house. Fortitude and Grit written across his features as he did so.

“Professor Flitwick may I join the Slytherins in being led down to the slaughter house…I mean common room?” Harry corrected himself as if he hadn’t intended to say slaughter house all along.

Flitwick coughed going from staring up at his student to finding the floor utterly fascinating for a few good moments.

----------0

Corvus had begun to suspect that Lucius was quite correct in regarding Harry’s silence on Samhain. Yet, that wasn’t what begun to concern him, no, it was the fact the potions were as of yet untouched. He should have been in his dorm room by this, half an hour ago at least, maybe more depending on how long the entertainment ran for. Half an hour, that was all he was giving Harry. Another half an hour then he was getting in touch with Filius and if he had to show up at Hogwarts with the entire Auror force behind him, then so be it.

Before the time could finish counting down, and his internal panic begin to take a more worrisome turn, the book glowed blue. It was just two words.

I’m fine.

Now why on earth would Harry feel the need to reassure him about that? It made his heart sink, the low tapping revealed that Harry had most likely taken his potions. Corvus flipped the lid open for confirmation, and found that all the vials were now empty. Now was Harry just not in the mood to talk or was he genuinely worried that he was worried?

For some reason, Harry, I don’t believe I’m going to like what I read next, what happened what’s going on?

Did he need to kill someone? Had Dumbledore guilt tripped Harry tonight in order to get information? No, Harry was stronger than that. It would need to be something diabolical to get Harry to unwittingly reveal anything. But so many things that could have happened circled his mind. No, if Harry had revealed everything, the first thing out of him would have most definitely been an apology. Perhaps he was best getting in touch with Filius, at least there would be no beating around the bush. Or Severus at a push if he couldn’t get through to Filius.

Professor Quirrell interrupted the feast this evening, before the festivities truly began, informing the teachers that there was a Troll in the dungeons. Everyone began to panic, even Draco and the others. I got a little mad though, and sort of, maybe confronted the teachers.

Corvus’ brows shot up at the words, Harry? Harry confronted the teachers? While he wasn’t one to shy away, he couldn’t see Harry just confronting the professors at Hogwarts without a good reason. Harry had a very good head on his shoulders, everything he did he did for a reason.

Dumbledore told the prefects to take the students to their common rooms. I went up to Professor Flitwick and asked if I could join the Slytherins in being led to the slaughter house…I did correcting myself and said ‘common room’ then Professor McGonagall made the decision that all the students would be kept in the Great Hall until the problem was dealt with. Dumbledore agreed, looking rather constipated at what I’m not sure.

Corvus pressed his hand over his mouth, hiding his incredulously amused grin that spread across his face. It was habit to hide when one was amused, but there was no need here since it was private. He was in his own home and wouldn’t be interrupted tonight. For a boy placed in Ravenclaw he had such Slytherin attributes, but he wasn’t just a Slytherin a heart – or should be a Slytherin by house – but he was Slytherin by blood and it was impossible to forget. Not only just because he was in awe of it, but because his results were in his bedroom. The family tree was now encased in a glass frame.

I do believe I will need to show you how Pensieve’s work, Harry, for this is a memory I will most definitely cherish.

There was a student missing through, they did a head count, Professor McGonagall was in a right state.

Corvus blinked at the words, as they finally computed. Harry’s writing was getting calmer now, less hasty, perhaps it was a combination of pain, adrenaline and worry that he would be angry or disapprove? With the potions in his system he would have calmed, the pain dissipating and the fact he had not written anything disapproving. A student had been missing, the ‘was’ in that statement meant he or she had been found.

Oh? He wrote in reply, wondering if the Ministry even had an idea anything had even happened.

Apparently Hermione Granger hadn’t shown up for the feast, she’d been in the girls toilets crying for over five hours since charms class. There’s been rumours about why, but they are so outlandish. Professor Quirrell was wrong about where the Troll was…either that or it changed direction pretty quickly. The girl, she was found in the wrecked bathroom, she has severe injuries that if she hadn’t been in a magical school she wouldn’t have survived. I guess we wont know tomorrow but the last we heard she was alive – barely – not that the professor actually said that, but you could see how tense and worried she was.

Corvus was furious, not at the fact the Mudblood had been harmed…no, it was more to do with the fact that it could have been Harry or any other pureblood’s heir. Trolls were notoriously difficult to deal with for teens, not that Harry was even a teenager yet. It had probably taken quite a few teachers to bring that thing down. Such things weren’t supposed to be possible at Hogwarts. Trolls just wandering in? No, someone had brought that damn thing in, someone wanted to cause chaos or worse kill someone.

You are well? No injuries? He asked Harry, probably a little too curtly, even on paper but he didn’t care right now.

I haven’t been hurt I promise, Marcus suggested we make our way down earlier so I wouldn’t be hurt with everyone wanting to get to the Great Hall. That’s what we did, plus we remained in the Great Hall for an hour, after that, we made our way back to the Common Room, as first years we’re last to leave, so no pushing and shoving, the others made sure of it. Nobody other than Granger got hurt tonight, and I’ve taken my potions.

Corvus relaxed, absently marking a note of the date and exactly what happened in his journal. One never knew when such information might come in handy. Corvus had a feeling that the Ministry would be completely oblivious of this incident. Dumbledore was the Headmaster, he was responsible for all the students…if that girl died…yes, it would be on his shoulders.

I’m pleased you are well, are the potions working? Nearing two hours before he took the potion for his aches, he must have been in an painful predicament.

Yes, but I want to have a shower, I’ll be back soon.

Closing the book idly, with Dumbledore getting a trial, the more information he could gather that would visibly surprise the old fool the better. Merlin, he couldn’t wait to condemn the old fool, he definitely deserved it. Unfortunately, he was aware that he was very much liked by the general population and more than half the Wizengamot normally. The incident with the Troll might not be enough, but he was going to do his best to see him destroyed.

If at first he doesn’t succeed he would try again.

It was going to be the height of irony that the thing that ‘breaks’ Dumbledore is the knowledge of Harry’s allegiance to the Lestrange family.

 

-------0

Here we go another chapter for you all to enjoy! To think I was going to get the first chapter done in four bloody chapters or something like that its hilarious to think about now isn't it not? Sooooo will Harry end up in front of the Mirror next chapter? Will he tell Corvus? What exactly will Harry see in front of it? Will Dumbledore use Legilmens to find out what he was thinking only for Harry to catch him? Hmm, the brothers free and Corvus as a father figure? his parents after all it is his hearts desire and not sure if its really right to change it...or practical? seeing himself as headboy, prefect, lawyer? defender? protector? two out of the three? its possible I suppose since Ron was thinking all these things at eleven...but I'm not sure Harry would in heart of hearts be that way! Anyone think of a place for Severus in this story? It's so odd not writing him into it! I'm sure you all feel weird as well since he's always my main character in some form! SO, what do you think? Harry's not going to be good at potions at least not a prodigy he will pass to do what he wants in life but that's it...see what I mean? I can't think of a place for Severus in Harry's life perhaps it's best they never get along but Severus protecting him when and where he could? Just acquaintances in passing? Harry warming up a little as he gets older? R&R please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

23rd Dec – 8 Jan Yule Holidays

Chapter 18

22nd December - Hogwarts

-----------------------------0

“Mr. Potter, stay a moment,” professor Flitwick called out, summoning all the feathers he was still using to teach the rest of the students the levitation charm. While the rest of the students were reading ahead in their charms textbooks. Waiting patiently for his first years to bag their workbooks, parchment, quills and ink before trudging off towards their next classes, not without giving a curious look over their shoulders as to why Flitwick wanted with Potter.

“Is something the matter, Professor?” Harry asked, watching as he used magic, the murmured Latin giving away the fact it was a silencing spell. There must be students outside waiting, either people early to class or saying behind to try and overhear their conversation.

“Has something happened between yourself and Lord Lestrange?” Filius asked, tone concerned and grim, as he sat on his chair, bones aching.

Harry blinked, staring at his Head of House, clearly thrown by the question. “Wha…” he managed to rasp out, stunned. He knew Corvus would be disappointed by his reply, he should have remained silent until he was able to function fully. “I mean, excuse me?” pulling himself up, spine straight as he stared at Professor Flitwick.

“Ah, nothing has happened then, that’s a relief,” Filius said, gauging Harry’s reactions, and considering them sincere, obviously nothing had happened. “If you ever need help, no matter who it is regarding, you come to me, is that understood?” he would protect his Ravenclaw’s with all he had in him.

“While I appreciate the sentiment, Professor, I am confused why you feel the need to say those statements,” Harry said, definitely not disappointing Corvus this time.

“The decision to stay at Hogwarts had been confused, that is all,” Filius explained, waving away Harry’s concern and statements.

“Stay at Hogwarts?” Harry was becoming more perplexed instead of having this entire conversation wrapped up. “I’m not staying at Hogwarts.” He had made it more than clear he was going home for the holidays.

“Then perhaps you’d explain why you put your name down on the paperwork for remaining at Hogwarts during the holidays?” Filius questioned, flipping through paperwork before finding what he wanted and handing it to the clearly confused Harry. This was merely a real-time copy of the one in the common room, there was also another in the Headmaster’s office. Something more was going on, that was clear, and he was very grateful that he had the forethought to enquire further.

Harry stared at his signature, having to concede it was very much like his own. He knew he hadn’t signed up to stay though, “Well, it must have been someone’s idea of a joke.” Harry said blankly, “Is there any way it can be removed?” he was leaving Hogwarts with or without his name on that stupid list. Showing how dismissive he was at his inclusion on the paperwork. “I will be leaving on the Hogwarts Express and returning home.” Refusing to say the name, even with the silencing spells up, he knew better than to just trust anything just because a few precautions had been taken. He didn’t understand how many things could be done, but he knew it was a lot. Corvus said he’d help him, and send him books too. Which of course, he was, and was sending mice and things for Hedwig, which made Harry beam in happiness that Corvus knew him well enough to know he’d like his owl cared for as well.

“The train will not leave if the number is not correct,” Flitwick informed the young boy, “But it is simple enough to remove your name,” with that Flitwick tapped his wand on Harry’s name and it quickly disappeared and the rest of the names moved up filling the space left behind.

“Thank you,” Harry said, making a mental note to check and make sure whoever was doing it didn’t put his name on again. If it came to it, he would simply Portkey back, he had an emergency Portkey – activated by his blood with only one person travelling, which would be him – he hadn’t used it yet obviously. Corvus had given it to him in the event that Dumbledore tries to forbid Harry from returning to his ‘betrothed’ which was only a precautionary measure he’d said. Corvus didn’t think Dumbledore would risk things as they stood in trying to force Harry elsewhere. He’d rather be safe than sorry, and thus it had been packed at the bottom of his trunk for safe keeping.

“You’re welcome, now on you go, give this to your next professor, so you don’t end up in trouble!” Filius informed Harry, handing over a little excuse note, so that Harry wasn’t given detention for remaining behind after class. He was relieved that nothing was going on between Corvus and Harry, since he didn’t want Harry’s life upheaved yet again, especially after not finding someone who clearly understood what Harry needed. That Harry clearly had strong feelings for in turn.

“Thanks, Sir!” Harry said, stepping forward and accepting the small slip of parchment that had been sealed closed. Stuffing it into his school bag. “Bye!” he chirped once he was at the doorway before closing it with a click.

The incident already forgotten as he made his way towards DADA, he went as quickly as he was able. Which wasn’t exactly fast, but Harry was still recovering and nothing, not even hastening towards his class was going to set him back. Not this close to Yule, which by the way was going to take some getting used to.

“Sorry I’m late, Professor, I have a note from Professor Flitwick,” Harry said with the same kindness and respect he treated the rest of his professors. Making his way over, he opened his bag, rummaging around for the note he’d shoved in.

“That…is a very rare book, Mr. Potter,” Quirrell commented, without a single stutter, startled by the sight of the book, so much so that he had come out of character. So rare that Quirrell/Voldemort could make an accurate guess as to where the boy had got it from. The tag at the bottom of the book indicated it was most assuredly not a copy of the original.

“Thank you, Professor,” Harry said, grinning widely, touching it reverentially, “It was a gift,” and it was, although it would end up back in Lestrange Manor library. He’d seen the date of its release, how many were made and how rare and expensive it was. Corvus had sent it a few weeks ago, as a thank you, Harry thought, for his idea that allowed Corvus to see both his sons. It was too much, so Harry had every intentions of returning it to the library, plus he lived in Lestrange manor right? It was his home, so it stood to reason he would put it back. The price of the book was more than the ‘bride price’ as it were, in the betrothal contract, nearly double it as a matter of fact. “Here you are, Sir!” Harry said, sliding the parchment from Flitwick over.

Quirrell barley paid any attention to what was on the paper, still reeling over what he’d just seen. “Yo-u-u m-a-a-y-y s-i-i-i-it down,” Quirrell said, his stutter far worse than normal. His mind not on the excuses, but the book, it wasn’t possible was it? What could Harry Potter have to do with the Lestranges? His mind flicked back to the sight of two of his most faithful in Azkaban with their father Corvus. Yet when and how was Potter at Azkaban? Was it possible that he had seen through Potter’s eyes?

To say DADA was quite slow in and on itself was putting it lightly. Voldemort was preoccupied and Quirrell was terrified of what it might mean. Thus, this stuttering wasn’t quite so feigned at this point in time. Not only was he hosting the Dark Lord on the back of his head…but he was also sometimes possessed by the extremely powerful wizard.

Despite the desire to hold the boy back and get his answers, Voldemort let him go with a contemplative silence that made Quirrell shiver.

--------0

“You all ready to head home?” his room mate asked, as he wandered in to see Harry carefully folding his clothes into his trunk.

“Almost, just got my books to add, are you heading home?” Harry asked Terry Boot as he shuffled the remaining cloaks into his trunk. It didn’t seem so, since Terry had yet to pack a single thing by the looks of it.

“Yeah, I’m just about to begin packing myself,” Terry commented, correcting Harry’s own thoughts regarding Terry remaining at Hogwarts for the holidays. “I can’t wait to head home even though they say Yule here is quite fun!” a lot of the Ravenclaws were heading home, just like most of the castle was. As much fun as it would be to do whatever he liked during the holidays, his mum would have a fit if he decided to miss family traditions.

“So I’ve heard,” Harry said with a grin, “Weasley keeps going on about the feast,” the Weasley’s had elected to stay in the castle, telling everyone who would listen. Quite honestly, Ron was driving even his brothers insane by the look of it.

Terry grimaced, “Yeah, who’d want to see him sitting eating at Yule?” he ate like a bovine chewing cud, it was distasteful. Especially for a pureblood like him, blood traitor or not. “At least his brothers aren’t like that,” Percy, Fred and George seemed to have impeccable table manners, it was just the youngest Weasley, or should he say youngest male Weasley since Ginevra Weasley would soon be attending Hogwarts too.

Harry sniggered, “Fred and George are rather funny,” he admitted, the twins always found ways to make the students laugh. Their jokes and pranks were designed to entertain not harm anyone. In fact, Harry thought they’d make good joke makers, like the prank shop Corvus spoke about, he’d never gone in though. He had zero interest in pranks or pranking people. although, Fred and George did make him change his mind a little. Perhaps he would go into Zonko’s joke shop and have a look around.

Terry groaned, “Did you see what they did to poor Professor Sprout? Those stink pellets were absolutely atrocious!” nobody had told Sprout who was to blame, but she was quite easily able to figure it out on her own. “Even with the windows open it took half an hour for that stink to disappear!” magic wasn’t to be used near the plants, it was too dangerous in case they were affected, or rather some plants, its why everything was mostly done by hand.

“You thought it was bad near the door? I think me and Padma had the twins spot…where they let them lose in the first place. The stink didn’t abate for even a second, and there were no windows near us!” Harry protested shaking his head in amusement, not really complaining, between everyone’s faces and the teachers it had been fun.

The twins of course, had left absolutely no evidence of their misdeeds.

“That’s rotten luck,” Terry said in sympathy, but his sympathy took a backseat to the amusement he seemed to be trying desperately to hide.

“Tell that to your face,” Harry snorted, giving him a pointed look, but his face was hidden a lot due to his packing. Which by the way, most of it was done, with a spell. Harry made a mental note to remember that spell in future.

His shoulders shaking have him away though.

Ten minutes later both boys were calmly packing the remains of their belongings, refusing to leave anything during the holidays. It didn’t take long to pack after all, or unpack, but they most certainly wouldn’t be able to return to Hogwarts willy-nilly to pick something up if they forgot it.

Knocking at the door surprised both of them out of their stupors.

“I’m not expecting anyone, you?” Terry asked, any of his friends would have just walked in after knocking.

Harry shook his head absently, as he dropped the lid of his trunk closed with a thump. “There,” he said in quiet satisfaction. Terry looked as though he was already finished despite the fact Harry actually begun ten minutes earlier than his roommate.

“Professor Flitwick!” Terry called out in surprised, standing straighter as he stared down at his Head of House. “Can I help you?” was he just doing rounds to make sure everyone got packed in time? Or here to get the trunks? But they don’t leave until tomorrow…they’d need a few things between now and boarding the Hogwarts Express.

Harry arched a brow, looking very much like Corvus when he was enquiring silently about something. Not that such a look would have made him ashamed, he wasn’t ashamed of how much he imitated Corvus. Although, if he wasn’t careful he would give away the identity of his betrothed. All pureblood families had their…nuances that would give away the family name.

“I would like a moment to speak to your roommate, Mr. Boot,” Flitwick said, his voice gentle and compassionate, as he often was with everyone. In fact, in the few months he’d been at Hogwarts, Flitwick had yet to raise his voice or get angry with anyone. Even McGonagall wasn’t impervious to getting annoyed with the student body. And she was not only the Transfiguration teacher, Head of Gryffindor House BUT also Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts.

“Um…sure, professor, I’ll just…go see…yeah,” Terry murmured, clearly feeling rather dumbfounded by the turn of events. Harry had never seen Terry react that way, he was always perfectly articulate and ready for anything.

“Can I help you, professor?” Harry asked, looking around the room, making sure it was tidy, the inspections they had made sure the rooms were always half way decent. It wasn’t Professor Flitwick that did it actually, but rather the prefects went around making sure the rooms were tidy. Depending on who was prefect, the standards differed.

“Are you playing games with me, Mr. Potter?” Filius asked, a frown marring his forehead.

“Huh?” Harry blurted out, wide eyed, what the hell? “Why? What have I supposed to have done?” he added with a bit more smoothness than his inelegant ‘huh’ had accomplished.

“You’re name is on the list, yet again,” Filius informed him, showing proof in his hands, irritated and vexed by having to come here to get answers.

“But I sort of…removed the list from the common room…” Harry said, his tone entirely too sheepish, as he wandered over to the desk and plucked it up. “See, and I didn’t put my name on that list!” managing successfully to only sound slightly indignant. Yet, his name was clearly displayed, what annoyed Harry the most was the fact it genuinely looked like his writing.

“Let me see,” Filius requested the paperwork, and did a bit of spell work, only to find that Harry was being completely truthful. The name had not been added via this paperwork, and he knew he hadn’t done it so that left only one other person. “It would seem that the Headmaster is up to something.” Dumbledore was the only other one with a copy.

Harry immediately closed off entirely, his face, his stance, one could have mistaken him for a marble statue. Eventually, however, he began breathing again, still stone faced though. He was absolutely furious about what he’d just heard. “I see,” he said coolly, he was definitely going to write to Corvus about this, but why the hell would it be so important to Dumbledore that he remain at Hogwarts? What did he think trying to sneak his name on the list was going to accomplish? “Well I am returning home regardless of what Dumbledore tries, if he goes too far I will see that he arrested for kidnapping and false imprisonment.” Which was exactly what it would be.

“It won’t come to that,” Filius retorted seriously, “I shall keep an eye on the list, and hand it personally to the conductor of the Hogwarts Express.” He may need Minerva’s aid in distracting Dumbledore until the express had taken off for its journey back to Kings Cross Station. She would help him without too many questions, while he didn’t care, Minerva would aid them in order to stop Dumbledore ending up charged with kidnapping and imprisoning a student. Which would only cause Dumbledore to be fired as Headmaster of Hogwarts. He didn’t assume for one second that Harry was bluffing regarding Dumbledore. Harry loathed the elder wizard with a passion rarely seen on anyone these days. Although, Harry was young, he’d learn to mask his feelings when it came to passionate feelings – well when it concerned Dumbledore – anyway, especially if Lord Lestrange had anything to do with it.

“Yes, Sir,” Harry said respectfully.

“Now, shall we head to the Great Hall and get you something to eat?” Filius suggested, as he had promised to make things easier for Harry. Thus, they would be using the Floo network, anything to ease the strain on Harry’s muscles.

“I’d appreciate that, Professor,” Harry said, relief flowing through him, he had been a bit more active today than normal.

Unfortunately, tonight was going to be a difficult one and not at all Harry’s doing.

With that Filius and Harry made their way out of the dorms and made their way to the common room, and to the fireplace to Floo to the antechamber next to the Great Hall.

--------o

Severus jerked awake out of his light sleep, deeply confused as to what woke him up. Only for all of a few seconds, before the sound of his name being called had him narrowing his eyes more awake and alert. That was the voice of Corvus Lestrange. Swallowing thickly, vividly reminded of the last time he had been face to face with the wizard in question. Merlin, he hoped never to encounter him again, he’d never felt so vulnerable in over a decade and he had forgotten the fear that it inspired.

Grasping his cloak, he slid out of bed, slipping his feet into his slippers before making his way through to the living area. Unsurprised to see Corvus Lestrange’s head sitting in the fireplace, but he was somewhat apprehensive and confused. “Is everything alright?” judging by the look on his face, all was not well.

“Harry hasn’t taken his potions this evening,” Corvus stated sharply, “I cannot get in touch with Filius, I do not know his address for his Quarters here at Hogwarts.” Only his classroom address, but all students knew those ones.

“What do you expect me to do about it?” Severus couldn’t help but utter, annoyance thrumming through him. “I cannot be held accountable if the boy doesn’t take his potions.”

“He’s never forgotten, nor has he needed reminded, the pain is the only constant reminder he needs,” Corvus said through gritted teeth, his glare putting Severus’ to shame. One that vividly reminded him that Corvus would kill him if he took a step out of line regardless of where he was in the world. Even at Hogwarts, which he had demonstrated wasn’t safe. Never had been.

“Very well, I shall alert Filius and make sure the bra…boy takes his potions,” Severus stated, still deeply unimpressed over being awoken just because Potter hadn’t taken his potions. Although, given what he was taking, he knew the pain had to be quite intolerable if he went without.

“I wish to be kept updated on what is happening,” Corvus commanded, and he didn’t need to state what would happen otherwise. With that the flames popped as Corvus disappeared from the Floo Network, breaking the connection.

Severus stared, his heart pounding, he could have sworn he saw raw genuine fear on Corvus Lestrange’s face…could it be possible? No, Corvus Lestrange’s heart was dead as it could be. He loved nothing and nobody other than the Dark Lord and his sons. He definitely wouldn’t love Harry Potter, the source of the Dark Lord’s downfall and his sons imprisonment. Could he? This all had to be an elaborate ruse, he just didn’t know why or what yet. These thoughts continued to endlessly circle his mind, to the extent of driving him bloody mad.

Regardless of what they planned, he would need to retrieve Filius and find out where the bloody brat was now.

But first, he had to change, he was no under any circumstances allowing students or his colleagues to see him like this.

To Filius it was.

-------0

Severus stood tapping his foot impatiently at the Ravenclaw common room entrance. Awaiting Filius’ return, fully expecting that Harry was in there, perhaps had just fallen asleep or some such. The end of the week was a welcoming relief because they were all exhausted. Regardless of what he thought and said about the boy, he knew the kind of pain he was in and truly didn’t envy him. It made him feel quite sick actually…especially when it came to being anywhere near Dumbledore without a barge pole to separate them.

“Harry is not in his Dorm or the common room, none of the other students have seen him since dinner. Which is very unusual of him, he always returns to the dorms after dinner, always. He either spends time in the common room beside the fire reading a book, or he takes one up the stairs to the dorm to read in bed after showering.” Filius informed Severus, as he vacated Ravenclaw common room, a concerned look adorning his face. One of his Ravenclaw’s had been missing and he’d been done the wiser. One who was in very frail health at that. He could have pushed himself too far and passed out, hurt himself, any number of things could have happened.

“Can we help look for Harry, Professor?” Terry asked, as he tumbled out the room, a look of genuine worry for the boy on his face. Sure, they weren’t best friends, they were just slightly more than casual acquaintances, they’d given each other permission to use their given name.

“No,” Filius retorted immediately, the last thing he needed was all his Ravenclaws traipsing all over the school and ending up lost themselves. “No, thank you, Mr. Boot, Return to the common room immediately, and refrain from leaving.” Giving a warning to the wizard in case he was tempted to try anything. He didn’t bother asking the boy from refraining from alarming the first years, they already realized something was up. They might be new to Hogwarts but that didn’t make them stupid by any stretch of imagination, especially his Ravenclaws.

“Yes sir,” Terry sighed, before grudgingly going back inside, not having to crack a riddle due to the fact the door was still open, and had been wedged open by his foot. He shuffled in with shadowed eyes, imagining all sorts of horrors.

“Do you have any ideas?” Severus asked dryly, still too annoyed to feel any worry…yet.

“Perhaps you should retrace his possible steps towards the Great Hall, I’ll head to the library, to see if perhaps he decided to go there.” Filius declared, “If we cannot find him in the obvious places we will need to pull an alert and get the ghosts, House-elves and others in to thoroughly search the castle.”

“Very well,” Severus stated in agreement before turning swiftly, and stalking back the way they came, go figure his weekend would be ruined.

Filius followed at a slower pace, making his way to the library instead of the Great Hall, which wasn’t all that further down, but Severus certainly had a easier time of it. He had a long stride on him, more so when he was annoyed, and Severus most definitely was.

--------0

“Nothing?” Filius called out, the second he spotted Severus staking towards him a pensive frown upon his face. Perhaps he was finally beginning to realize that Harry wasn’t one for late night wanderings and he was currently missing.

“No, absolutely nothing, I’ve already informed the Bloody Baron and a few other ghosts to be on the lookout,” Severus said through gritted teeth, loathed as he was to be concerned, he genuinely was. not only had he sworn to protect him…it would just be a matter of what killed him first…the vow or Corvus Lestrange.

“G-g-g-goo-d e-even-in-g,” Quirrell stuttered as he passed them, giving a confident not that offset his stutter. “Y-y-yo-u-u look w-worri-e-e-ed, F-f-fi-l-l-i-us,”

“One my of my students are missing,” Filius informed him grimly, nodding once he had Quirrell’s attention. “Harry Potter, he hasn’t been seen since dinner,” which was hours ago, curfew had already come and gone for the upper years as it was. Harry wasn’t just a little late for his curfew it was hours now. Four hours since he was last seen by anyone, and that was only a guestimate.

Quirrell was startled to hear that, “W-w-w-we-ll I-i-ll do-o what I c-a-an to hel-l-p,” he insisted stammering.

“The faculty will be doing what they can to help,” Severus sneered, looking down his nose at Quirrell, utterly disgusted by this waste of flesh that managed to get the Defence post. “Staff room?” he asked Filius, completely changing countenances in the blink of an eye.

Filius sighed resignedly, before giving a single sharp nod.

“S-s-s-ha-l-l-ll W-e-e?” Quirrell gestured towards the quickest way to the staff room.

Meanwhile, on the back of Quirrell’s head, Lord Voldemort was seeking out the connection he just knew he had with the boy. Unfortunately, both times it hadn’t been in his control, no, it was entirely the boy’s, any attempt to locate it was futile. Whether it was because he wasn’t strong enough, or the connection was only one way…he didn’t know.

Due to his…curiosity regarding all this he had refrained from consuming unicorn blood. Too worried it might addle the connection or his mind to dare.

------0

News quickly spread about Harry’s disappearance, including the students, despite the fact it was now past curfew and they shouldn’t be out of their common room and thus should have been completely ignorant of the fact a fellow student was missing.

“Professor we know….”

“Where Harry Potter is,” the twins commented as they approached Filius, Quirrell and Severus who were searching and had just met up in the middle once again. The rest of the teachers were searching with at least a ghost beside them.

“He’s fine…”

“Or should be…”

“He’s with Professor Dumbledore…”

“Although he’s in an…”

“Abandoned part of the castle…”

“Where?” Filius demanded, his tone curt, something he rarely was with the students. However, the fact that Harry was with Dumbledore he found extremely alarming.

“He’s in one of the unused classrooms just off the first floor corridor near the library,”

“Two doors down,” George added, deciding against their usual twin talk seeing how worried Filius actually looked.

“Return to your common room immediately, boys,” Filius demanded, “And thank you,” he added, meaning it sincerely.

Severus gazed at the boys, a look of speculation on his face, wondering how on earth they knew where Harry was and why they hadn’t just escorted the boy themselves.

“Yes, Sir!” the twins agreed with a salute, ignoring the Potions Master’s questioning gaze before heading straight for the closest staircase that would return them to Gryffindor Common room. They’d heard the Patil twin talking about it with her friends Lavender Brown and another girl they didn’t know. Apparently the twins spoke often through twin journals. Now it was definitely something they’d wanted for years, unfortunately, they knew they’d never get it. Their parents couldn’t afford the price of those journals and the spells for them weren’t available for the public. They had copyrights over them, which prevented it from coming known since it was a business. If it was known…well the business wouldn’t do well now would it?

“L-l-le-t’s g-g-o sh-a-ll we?” Quirrell stuttered, as Voldemort grew impatient at the back of his mind. He wanted to know why Potter and Dumbledore were in an unused classroom together. Was the hated feigned? Was he up to something? Did it have something to do with Corvus and the younger Lestranges? Was he up to something with the old fool? Had he been completely hoodwinked by Dumbledore yet again?

Severus didn’t design to even look at Quirrell, grimacing in disgust. Filius glanced at the wizard and gave a firm nod. He knew Harry wouldn’t be anywhere near Dumbledore without a good reason, either that or Dumbledore had accosted Harry there or worse led him there. Neither one was a good thing in his book, Harry loathed the old fool. He believed Harry had been learning magic beyond first year spells, Corvus would definitely have made sure he knew how to defend himself. Which begged the question…was he concerned about Harry or Dumbledore in this matter?

It didn’t take them long to be outside the room mentioned by the twins. The door was closed and all was silent, and they couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps the twins had been pulling a prank. They sincerely hoped not, it was definitely not something the twins would normally do. Their pranks were always done in good nature against people who laughed along with them, never any bullying and definitely not singling out the Slytherins like most Gryffindors elected to do.

Quirrell non-verbally cast a spell to see if anyone was in the room, before making the door see-through so they could see into the room. Quirrell raised two fingers, there were two people in there, but only one could be seen. Harry was staring at something, but they couldn’t see what because of the pillars in the way.

He looked to be under a considerable amount of strain, his body was shaking but Harry made no move to sit to elevate the aches and pains.

Opening the door Filius let his magic go, the door slammed against the wall, as Filius made quick work of getting to Harry’s side. When he saw what had garnered Harry’s attention he gasped, completely horrified. “Merlin, how long has he been staring at it?” this thing had driven grown wizards mad! Let alone a young boy, whirling around, eyes blazing, smoke coming from his wand in droves as he spread it across the room. Until a smoky body illuminated the room, revealing Dumbledore’s presence which suspiciously had been hidden.

“Albus, how dare you stand there and watch?” Filius hissed out between gritted teeth, fury nearly bowling him over.

Someone non-verbally caused Dumbledore’s disguise to be removed, whether it was Severus, Quirrell or Dumbledore himself he didn’t know.

“I got here just before yourselves,” Albus said contritely, despite the deer stuck in the headlights look he’d supported, he hadn’t expected them to get here that was for damn certain.

They all knew that was a damn lie, and didn’t bother to hide the incredulity on their faces, Severus was a bit less apparent. The twins had known the old man was there, for Merlin’s sake and it had taken them at least fifteen minutes to get to the room from where they had originally been searching.

“Harry? Can you hear me?” Filius turned his attention to Harry, who needed him a hell of a lot more than he needed to get even with Dumbledore. “Harry?”

Harry didn’t show any signs of hearing him, as he stared at the mirror or erised, Merlin, whatever he was being shown had suckered him right in so much so that reality was fading completely.

Filius glanced helplessly at Severus and Quirrell, clearly unsure of what to do. If he ripped Harry’s attention from it what would do it do to his mind? They needed to ease Harry out of this enchantment.

Voldemort sensed Dumbledore’s magic on the boy, and knew immediately that it hadn’t been the boys choice to come here tonight. He had been compelled, was the old fool stupid? The bloody enchantment added with the spell to encourage him…it could keep him trapped here indefinitely! What was he thinking?

“Harry? I need you to look at me, please,” Filius cajoled with the youngster, “You need some rest, why not go get some sleep?” his body, Merlin help him, even now the strain his body was under was immense. “Why not sit at least?”

Yet again he was completely ignored.

Dumbledore watched them work, a concerned look on his face, he hadn’t intended for the boy to go so deep. He just wanted the boy to remember his parents, so he could begin encouraging his Gryffindor tendencies, to begin his subtle manipulations so that the boy would do anything he thought his parents would desire. The mirror was the perfect thing for it, after all, there was no doubt the boy was seeing his parents, who else and what else would he really see? So he would inevitably go to his own death with his parents on his mind when it was required. It was sad to know the boy had been destined to be killed since he was a baby but Harry was absolutely nothing compared to the magical world on a whole.

It was for the greater good.

Quirrell moved, pointing his wand at the mirror and a white sheet began to unroll, moving down the mirror as gravity did it’s job. Before too long, the entire mirror was covered from top to bottom, and only then did the enchantment seem to run its course as Harry’s knees buckled and Filius grunted trying to hold the boy up and failing, as they both toppled to the floor. Filius ending up cushioning his fall, hopefully it will have prevented any broken bones.

Voldemort’s eyes narrowed in on something bulging from the boy’s pocket, something he knew hadn’t been there seconds prior. If Quirrell hadn’t been dealing with the mirror at that exact moment he would have been obvious to it.

Severus moved in, he wasn’t a healer by any means but he had undergone Medi-wizardry course during his Potions Mastery. “We need to get him to Poppy,” Severus stated after the results returned, his tone grim, he couldn’t believe what Dumbledore had just done. Once again, he was being found in complete contempt of his vow he’d promised. Each time it was Dumbledore making sure of it, between giving Harry to the Dursley’s to his own bloody actions here at Hogwarts.

Quirrell moved next to Severus, subtly tapping his wand against whatever was in Harry’s pocket, transferring it to his own. All the while everyone remained utterly oblivious to their actions. He didn’t understand why the Dark Lord had asked it off him. What could the boy have that was so fascinating to the Dark Lord?

“No,” Filius retorted immediately, “He has his own personal healer, he will be seen by her, she knows his history and his potions intake.”

“Poppy will manage just fine,” Dumbledore spoke for the first time, looking perturbed by the information. How long had Potter had a healer? Why wasn’t he aware of this? Why would the boy need a healer in the first place? How much did this betrothed actually know? It made him very, very nervous indeed. The ring was a plain band, nothing to showcase whichever family he was being courted by.

“I am the boy’s guardian while he’s at Hogwarts, I have decided,” Filius replied, his voice cold and aloof, how dare Dumbledore try to condescend him? Make it seem like nothing? Merlin, he wondered if Dumbledore would pull this sort of stunt if he knew exactly which family Harry was betrothed to? He knew the answer to that, no. Dumbledore had lost a lot of power over the last few months, power he’d lost due to the boy he’d allowed to see his parents in the mirror – he had no doubt that’s what he’d seen – without care of his mental state. Whatever he was up to, he wasn’t about to let it continue, he was sending the boy home to recover at Lestrange manor.

“Very well, the healer may come here to see Mr. Potter,” Dumbledore sighed resignedly, “I shall inform Poppy,” with that he left the room. ignoring the incredulous stares digging into his back.

“He was compelled to seek the mirror out,” Severus informed Filius grimly, “The magic is no longer active but I am well aware of Dumbledore’s…magical presence.”

Quirrell nodded quickly, backing Severus up entirely. Trying not to speak, even he was getting a headache from the constant stuttering he was doing.

“I shall inform him,” Filius agreed, levitating the unconscious wizard, intending on taking him home to his family and the family healer. Poppy didn’t know anything about the abuse Harry had suffered, and unlike healers, Medi-witches weren’t sworn with the same oaths and vows, which meant she’d be able to tell Dumbledore everything – although frankly Filius thought he should know what his actions had wrought – if he didn’t already and that was a deeply depressing thought.

“H-h-h-im?” Quirrell asked, deeply curious, staring between Severus and Filius who clearly knew more than he did. He didn’t dare dig into their minds, both were accomplished Occlumens. Filius no doubt to prevent any of the completion from reading his intentions directly from his mind during duelling season. As for Severus, he had taught the wizard himself, and he had caught on extraordinary fast, but that didn’t surprise him. Severus had always been an extraordinary quick learner, no matter the subject.

“Very well,” Severus sighed, stepping back, allowing Filius to safely leave with the child. Regretting his earlier attitude and belief’s. It was just so ingrained to disbelief anything Potter related, it was going to take him a while to realize that Harry wasn’t like either of his parents but his own ‘man’ but he wasn’t a man yet, he was a boy. A boy who had been so enthralled in a mirror that he didn’t even twitch – well he had for all the wrong reasons the strain his body had been going through standing up for potentially hours – so immersed in what his hearts desires were.

“Mr. Pot-t-t-er has a n-e-e-ew mag-g-ical g-g-uardian?” Quirrell asked, knowing he wouldn’t receive an answer from Snape. He never did, Severus absolutely hated him.

He was correct of course, the look Snape shot him would have made a lesser man pee themselves. Unfortunately, lesser man he may be, he was also playing host to a wizard more terrifying than Snape so at the end of the day…he was nothing on the Dark Lord.

Severus turned swiftly, and left the room, pausing at the doorway, grimacing at the ache in his leg, he’d need to take another pain relief draught. Damn, that mangy mutt to hell, he felt like going up there and killing it for good measure. Although, considering it had three heads, three rows of very sharp teeth…he was grateful it had only bitten him once. Straightening his spine, aware he had just shown weakness in front of the most pathetic wizard alive, he stalked away, refusing to reveal his limp or pain.

Quirrell wandered to the door, watching everyone leaving, listening to the Dark Lord speak, “Dumbledore must think Potter is staying at Hogwarts…” neither Severus nor Filius had corrected him. His own teachers were turning against him, they knew something he did not. The question was what did they know? He needed to keep a closer eye on them. “Return to your quarters, immediately,” came the hissing of the Dark Lord, he wanted to see what the boy had in his pocket and whether it was worth anything. It might actually be something that could enable him to figure out who had custody of the boy.

The Lestrange’s were never far off his mind in potential candidates, there had to be a reason he had seen them after all. This connection…It had to be with Potter, but he couldn’t figure out why the hell the boy would have been in Azkaban…unless he was wrong. He didn’t like the thought of being wrong at all.

He would find out for definite at some point, this mysterious connection he had, had already flared up a few times.

He was rather eager to get back to the privacy of the living quarters he was currently occupying.

Perhaps that would answer his questions where nothing else could.

------0

“What the bloody hell happened?” Corvus cursed, furious beyond belief when he saw Harry unconscious laid out on a stretcher after being guided through the Floo. Filius had refused to tell him anything, just to open his Floo fully to allow him entry immediately and get his healer here. Which, of course, he had done, his stomach churning fearing the worst. A troll had already been in Hogwarts and had threatened the life of a student for Merlin’s sake, something that shouldn’t have happened. What had happened now?

Corvus, pressed his hand against Harry’s forehead, finding it clammy and filled with dried sweat, even Harry’s hair was still damp with perspiration. Corvus was however, deeply grateful for the intervention, he never wanted Harry to darken Poppy Pomfrey’s hospital ward. Albeit, that’s if she even did her job correctly and ran an entire history diagnosis, which he doubted. Millicent Flint had better get here fast, he thought, Harry was pale and he looked sick.

Filius jerked back at the sheer unmitigated rage coming from Corvus, although the words themselves probably gave it away more so than his magic fluxing. He doubted very much Corvus had ever lost his composure to the extent that he had cursed and spoken like a first year Gryffindor in…well, ever. At least not in public at any rate. Although technically they weren’t in public he was still speaking to someone he doesn’t know very well.

Swallowing thickly, he felt like murmuring something along the lines of ‘don’t kill or curse the messenger’ which he felt very much like at the moment. He knew the moment Dumbledore was mentioned it was going to be rather messy. “We begun to search for Harry the moment you got in touch. I went straight to his dorm room only to be informed that he hadn’t been seen since dinner hours before.”

Corvus narrowed his eyes unimpressed, “You’re stalling,” which meant he definitely wouldn’t like what the wizard had to say next. He didn’t even blink when Millicent made her entrance, and she sensing the atmosphere moved over to Harry’s unconscious still floating stretchered body. “I want answers immediately! Harry would never have decided to walk around the school when he was due his potions!” he didn’t care what anyone else said, he knew Harry, better than anyone else did.

“No, not willingly,” Filius agreed, the vehemence revealing a story all on its own.

“Again, I demand to know what’s happened, immediately,” Corvus retorted sharply, glancing briefly at Harry who still hadn’t woken up. Although he had no idea if Millicent was actually trying to rouse him or if she thought it best he sleep. She could be waiting to hear what happened before making a decision as well.

“We found him a few doors down from the library in an abandoned classroom.” Filius informed them seriously, “He was staring at an enchanted object that I had no idea was still within Hogwarts grounds let alone the castle itself.”

Corvus’ nostrils flared in silent warning, the urge to cast Legilmens on Filius was strong, just find out without all this beating around the bush.

“It was the mirror of erised,” Filius said, ignoring the gasps of horror coming from both Corvus and Millicent who evidently knew what he was referring to. “Otherwise known as the mirror of desire.”

“Who’s bright idea was that to have in a school filled with children?” Corvus growled, before belatedly realizing something that had been said earlier. “Not willingly, he was forced to face that blasted mirror?” it was old ancient magic, nineteenth century, probably brought to Hogwarts by a scholar, apprentice or teacher hoping to study it. It hadn’t been seen for such a long time, presuming that it had been destroyed after another death where someone had stood there and died after over a entire week of not drinking, eating or doing anything lost in the lure of the mirror.

“In a manner of speaking,” Filius stated, before trudging on, knowing he was pushing Corvus to the end of his tether. “He was compelled via strong magic to hunt down the mirror, Dumbledore’s magic at that, he ‘insisted’ he got there just before we did but I have it on good authority he was there at least fifteen-twenty minutes longer than that.” The twins would lie to get out of trouble…but with something like this, he didn’t think it was something they’d lie about. Not when it came to Dumbledore.

Corvus went statue still, eyes gleaming coldly the urge for revenge thrumming through him.

"How is he physically?" Corvus questioned Millicent through gritted teeth, clearly still struggling with his anger.

"Corvus," Harry's whispered murmur popped his anger like a balloon as he turned to Harry, his eyes were still closed still at least partially out of it.

------------0

Soooo has Voldemort found the stone earlier – taking it out of Harry’s pocket? - due to Dumbledore’s meddling ways? Or is it just a portkey that Corvus had given him? will Voldemort recognize Corvus magic? letting him correctly acknowledge that Corvus was indeed Harry’s new magical guardian? Would Voldemort leave immediately if he has it or remain there to watch and wait? Putting the stone to work in beginning to have the potion that would give him his body back? How long will it take to brew to completion? Will we make it an entire year? Two? Or will it be less time perhaps a month? Will Corvus have Dumbledore charged with child endangerment and take him out? After all he has the trial coming up to answer for his neglect of duties will Corvus use that to get Dumbledore suspended or dismissed entirely from his Headmastership? Will we see more of Rab and Rod before the trial? Or will they be talking about it afterwards? I really want to have a scene where Rabastan gets furious at the Dursley’s for a throw-away comment by Harry enough so that Rabastan actually wants them dead! Read And Review please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 19

“Harry?” Corvus immediately gave the pale soon-to-be teenager his entire attention. He didn’t see the byplay between Millicent Flint or Flitwick. Didn’t see the healer making silent gestures for Flitwick to leave, to let them have the two their privacy.

Flitwick gave one last lingering look at Corvus and Harry, but he knew his Ravenclaw was in safe hands. He doubted very much it was all an elaborate manipulation, people often forgot he was there or saw things from a different perspective due to his height. In other words he could clearly see Corvus face while a normal statured wizard might not have. Being underestimated and absent-mindedly forgotten had its perks. Especially when he was participating in the duelling championship tournament.

“Harry?” Corvus called out once more, his voice strong as always, with just a hint of concern that most people would have overlooked as arrogance or annoyance. “Millicent?” now his voice was changing, anger was warring with concern over his ignorance on what was happening and what was wrong with Harry. He was so pale, paler than he’d been upon their initial meeting, and that was saying something considering they’d met up in Azkaban prison after he’d passed out through the effects the dementors had. Not that he’d been aware of that at the time, which made the way he conducted himself that day even more impressive in Corvus’ book.

“It’s exhaustion, he’s merely sleeping, his body…it’s been through a strain he hasn’t felt since he begun healing.” Millicent explained, a gleam of resigned sadness in her voice. It always seemed to happen to Harry for some reason. “I’ve saved a copy of the spells used in the past twenty-four hours, I’m sure you want one?” knowing Corvus well enough to know he definitely did indeed.

“How far has this put back his recovery?” Corvus demanded to know, gritting his teeth in sheer bloody anger at what had happened. his hand unconsciously hovering over Harry’s face, tucking in a strand of loose hair, eyeing all the changes he could see in the few months since he’d seen him last. Longer hair, and his face wasn’t quite so gaunt, steadily putting on much needed weight. He still had a long way to go, of course, but for now he was satisfied.

He'd always known it would be a long arduous task getting Harry back to normal.

“Only Harry will be able to tell us that when he goes through his routine,” Millicent replied after a moments hesitation. The anger still on Corvus’ face was…terrifying even though she knew it wasn’t directed at her, Merlin help Dumbledore for Corvus was not going to take pity on the wizard. Not that she wanted him to.

“Very well,” Corvus bit out, some of his anger had drained just hearing Harry calling out to him in his delirium. The child trusted him, wanted him to be there when he was at his most vulnerable. That spoke of a deep seated trust he hadn’t expected to ever get from the child after all he’d been through.

“I just don’t understand why Dumbledore would do such a thing, it was an awful risk to take with his life,” Millicent muttered, shaking her head exasperated and angered by Dumbledore’s actions. It would do nothing, prove nothing, forcing Harry to see his deepest desires, except enthral him.

“To control someone it’s much easier to emotionally break them,” Corvus bit out, sounding feral. “Harry hasn’t fallen in line with what Dumbledore expected him to be despite his obvious attempts. So, he instead forced the child to gaze upon something his heart wanted but wouldn’t get. Then rescue him, tell him stories about his parents, subtly manipulating him to try and be more like them.” the Potters, who had been so stuck in Dumbledore’s pocket as to be dangerous and quite frankly disgusting. What worries Corvus was such an attempt may very well have worked.

“Assuming did see his parents in the mirror,” Millicent pointed out, “He’s eleven years old, he might have seen himself as what he wishes to be when he grows up, the family he desires. Harry has a very good head on his shoulders and knows his parents are lost to him. Unfortunately, you cannot miss what you cannot remember at the end of the day.”

“The heart doesn’t always work that way,” Corvus said with sadness, staring over his own shoulder at the portrait that hung there. His beautiful wife forever etched in that painting, he had lost her much too young, and wished so desperately to have her with him. He knew she was lost to him until he joined her, but the heart wanted what the heart wanted. He knew he would see her in the mirror should it appear before him. “I wonder…if he will need a mind healer after this…” a deep poignant sadness enveloping him.

Millicent froze hearing Corvus speak that way, swallowing thickly, his grief was so strong…still so enveloping. She didn’t dare reply, for anything she would say would prove inadequate at the end of the day. There was no definitive end date for grief, and perhaps Harry had seen his parents after all. How would Harry feel after seeing them so life like in a mirror so enchanting it enthralled its gazers?

“Let’s get him to his room,” Corvus said, ripping his gaze from the portrait, masks slamming back up, his back straightening. Grief closing off leaving a cool calm façade behind, he would make Dumbledore pay for this. No matter what he had to do, even if he had to reveal himself, he would ensure went to hell.

“Yes, familiar settings will help him recover,” Millicent agreed, they had no idea how he’d feel after being wrenched from the thrall of the mirror. Whether he would desire to find it again and look upon it, if he did…well, it would be perhaps best if he did not return to Hogwarts until they knew for certain that it was gone from the confines of the school. Millicent expressed her concerns to Corvus as they moved towards Harry’s bedroom here at the manor.

“If he needs to take time to recover then he can do so, until next year, the contract states he has to attend Hogwarts so I cannot pull him from it lest it is a threat to his life.” Corvus explained, giving her an insight to the contract. He need not worry about her revealing anything anyway, she too was tightly bound to a contract that would prevent any revelations. Not that he expected her to gossip about him and his behind his back, she was very professional and had never heard any whispers of unprofessionalism. Such things would most certainly have reached his ears in the past. “The only threat to Harry’s life…is Dumbledore,” the name was spat with such distaste that it was felt in the very air they breathed.

Corvus opened the door to Harry’s room, which was just the same as it had looked when he left for Hogwarts a few months prior. No dust adorned the furniture, the House-elves did their jobs as always, keeping the rooms clean and tidy. Corvus himself drew back the covers, and Millicent levitated his body into the bed and cancelled the stretcher charm allowing Harry to sink into the bed.

“How long will he be asleep?” Corvus demanded to know, as he placed the covers over Harry, tucking him in almost absently. Would he even be well enough to go to Azkaban tomorrow?

“He should wake up some time this evening, I suggest you give him a dreamless sleep draught when he does wake after giving him something to eat and drink. He needs to sleep off the shock of what he’s seen and the strain his body has just gone through.” Merlin, she couldn’t accurately predict what he would be feeling mentally.

“Thank you, Millicent, you may go,” Corvus said, there was no point to her waiting around his manor for Harry to wake up. She had a family of her own after all, other patients and a life of her own. Plus, she’d informed him of all he’d need to know for now. “Thank you for your prompt appearance.” He was grateful for that, he did not like feeling useless, and if Millicent had been as quickly as she was…he would have felt even more useless.

“You’re welcome, Sir,” Millicent said, taking her leave, Corvus knew where she was and how to reach her if he needed her again. “Give Harry my best when he’s recovered.” She actually liked him, he was always honest if not a little shy, things may have changed in his attitude since she saw him last, growing into his confidence.

“I will do so,” Corvus declared, moving to accompany Millicent to the Floo Network, where he planned to grab a few things and remain close to Harry so he had company. It had absolutely nothing to do with his own desires to remain close, absolutely not.

Corvus couldn’t even convince himself of that.

------0

Harry blinked blearily, feeling very lost for a few moments before the familiarity of his settings sunk in. The tense line of his shoulders relaxed knowing he was safe. He ached so much that just trying to sit up made his body almost shake with the strain of it. His stomach grumbled so ferociously, that he almost couldn’t comprehend how hungry he was. Finally, finally once he was sat up, he saw Corvus asleep on the chair surrounded by paperwork. It made his heart sing, tears filled his eyes, it felt so good to have someone care. Someone actually cared about his wellbeing, it couldn’t all be because of the contract…he could have just gone to bed. Yet, he didn’t, he remained in this room out of concern for him.

This…this was the thing required to completely obliterate the last wall Harry had surrounding his heart and let Corvus in fully.

He was cared for, loved even.

Harry vowed that he would never let Corvus down, he would do everything in his power to see that his care, his love was reciprocated.

“Corvus?” Harry whispered, clearing his throat, trying to say it louder, “Corvus?” and he succeeded.

His name jarred the wizard awake, a frown marring his features for all of a few seconds before his face smoothed over. Standing up, acting as though his body wasn’t aching after accidentally falling asleep while waiting for Harry to wake. Taking two steps he opened the curtains letting sunlight into the room, causing the lamps to dim before cutting off altogether. A glance at the clock on the wall, now that he could see it across the room, he found it was six o’clock in the morning. “How are you feeling?” Corvus asked, as he approached the boy, sitting on the side of his bed, his dark eyes showing concern.

“Sore, hungry,” Harry revealed truthfully, he knew if he tried to lie Corvus would be disappointed in him. given this morning’s revelations, disappointing Corvus was the last thing he wished to do. “I need to pee,” he added as an afterthought.

“Can you manage or do you require assistance?” Corvus asked immediately, as he stood, calling his House-elf, and demanding food and Harry’s potions to be brought to them right away. He ignored the frown on Harry’s face – at the way he was talking to the House-elf – normally he’d temper the way he spoke to them a little. Only for Harry’s sake, but he wouldn’t change the way he was with them, it would terrify them more than help, they were used to this way of life. Plus, they had it lucky compared to the way some House-elves were treated, he didn’t force his to injure themselves as punishment or punish them himself.

“I…I don’t know,” Harry admitted, flushing red in abject humiliation.

Corvus pondered on how to deal with that particular problem, he seemed to have all his mental faculties in working order. Didn’t seem to be in any emotional distress, did he even remember the details of the mirror? Or had his mind hidden it in order to protect him? No, he was more concerned with the mortification that was exuding from Harry in droves. “Everyone needs help at one point in their life, Harry, there is nothing to be ashamed off,” Corvus finally said, as he watched Harry try to stand, quite frankly looking more like a skittish new-born colt than human.

Grasping his arm, allowing the boy to lean on him, giving him stability as he led him to the bathroom. Once there, he immediately turned and left, giving Harry privacy, he wouldn’t intervene unless he hurt himself in there. It was probably difficult enough for Harry to accept the help he’d given without the added embarrassment that would have come with him remaining there to watch over him.

He noticed the table had been cleared up of his work and set on the chair while food had replaced it. Enough to feed an army, the House-elves must have already begun making breakfast before they woke. He was proud of his House-elves, for anticipating his every need. He was also very pleased that they had remembered what Harry was and was not allowed to eat.

Stalking over to the box of potions, he open it and immediately plucked out a vial of pain reliver that was mixed with a muscle relaxant. This was what Harry required, hearing the toilet flush, he stalked back over, waiting patiently for the boy to open the door. “Here, drink this,” he said, without rushing at him, the vial open ready for Harry to take.

Harry didn’t even hesitate, very familiar with the routine by now, and the potions. He knew what it would do, and he was desperate for it. clutching the empty vial, he leant again the doorway, closing his eyes and a relieved sigh crossing his lips, Merlin help him, he couldn’t cope well with pain anymore.

“You’ll always have a higher pain tolerance compared to most people your age,” Corvus explained, pressing his hand against Harry’s shoulder blades, and guiding him towards the table where the food was. Sitting him closer to the foods he was allowed to consume were present. “I am pleased that the potions are helping so well.” he didn’t want to see Harry in pain.

“Did I just…” Harry muttered a little embarrassed.

“Yes, you said that out loud,” Corvus said, an amused quirk of his lips betraying his amusement at Harry’s predicament. It was something he’d need to take care off if he was in the habit of muttering under his breath. Considering he hadn’t seen him do it yet, he doubted very much he had anything to worry about.

“He tried to stop me coming back here,” Harry said, his tone slightly lost, “Kept signing me as staying at Hogwarts for the holidays.”

“He did,” Corvus confirmed, at least he wasn’t feeling hurt or betrayed. Merlin forbid he should feel anything similar to that when it came to Dumbledore. If he ever did then he knew they were in trouble to put it frankly. “Do you remember what happened yesterday?” heart pounding, he didn’t want to know what he’d seen, he just wanted to know whether he remembered the information. He would then need to explain what he suspected Dumbledore was up to.

“I remember,” Harry said hollowly, “I…didn’t mean to wander the castle…I swear, I just wanted to go back to my dorm I needed to take the potions, I hurt everywhere…” grimacing at the reminder, “I really didn’t want to wander…” he’d never done so in the past.

Corvus’ heart felt like it was going to cleave in two, Harry sounded so beaten down and he didn’t deserve that. Especially considering the actions weren’t his own, yet Harry didn’t seem aware that he’d been compelled, he just thought he’d done it on his own. That he had been acting on his own freewill, regretfully due to his…young age he wouldn’t understand the compulsion. If it had happened in a few years’ time Harry would have been more aware of the compulsion and could have fought it. Even the ring hadn’t registered how dangerous the spell was and prevented it’s grip on the child.

He would need to add a few more spells to it, prevent something like this happening again. In fact, he was furious with himself for not thinking of it sooner.

“What happened last night was not your fault,” Corvus stated curtly, being a little more firm than he usually would be with Harry. “You were compelled to seek out that mirror by a spell Dumbledore placed upon you. There was no way you could have fought it, believe me,” giving it to him straight as he always did.

“What does…” Harry started, what does Dumbledore have to get out of this? Was what he wanted to ask, but Corvus took it as he meant something else entirely.

“The mirror is an ancient magically powerful object, it shows the recipient who looks into the mirror their greatest innermost desires. The inscription supposed to say backwards I show not your face but your heart’s desire. Hence where the name came from mirror of Erised, which is desire spelt backwards.” Corvus explained, his own countenance darkening considerably. “Men have wasted away in front of it, unable to beat the thrall, luckily for you, your head of house, Snape and Quirrell found you.” He just wished he’d gotten in touch with Severus sooner, so that Harry hadn’t had to suffer so long.

Harry’s face tightened, a look of cold rage stealing across his features.

One that shouldn’t have been possible on a child Corvus observed. Yet there was no mistaking that look, it reminded the elder wizard vividly of another boy he’d known…a boy who had been living very similar circumstances to Harry. Tom hadn’t received any help during his teenage years and he had gone down a dark path to try and prevent others suffering as he had…yet he’d caused more harm than good in the end. More children were suffering Tom’s fate, it was disheartening to say the least. He just hoped that he had at least been able to save Harry from turning down an even darker path.

At least…at least Harry wasn’t going to be manipulated, controlled, or worse susceptible to someone like Dumbledore. Who would sing your praises, use you until there was absolutely no use left. He’d seen it done repeatedly, again and again, and he didn’t want that for Harry.

“Why?” was all Harry asked, clearly struggling on how to process what Dumbledore had done.

“Only guesses can be made as to Dumbledore’s state of mind,” Corvus explained patiently, gesturing for Harry to eat up, he could hear the grumbling of the child’s stomach, voicing protest to the unmentionable, children shouldn’t go hungry. “As well as one can try to know another…short of being in their mind with them there is no knowing someone’s true motives.”

“I don’t see what the mirror can have to do with forcing me to stay at Hogwarts, it doesn’t coalesce.” Harry said, irritation thrumming through him, he just couldn’t understand, couldn’t see what he was hoping to accomplish with his actions. He reluctantly begun eating, he didn’t like eating when he was stressed, which he was right now.

“Take a step back, think long term,” Corvus told him, watching that beautiful mind at work. Harry was smart, he just needed someone to show him that this was okay. The Dursley’s hadn’t welcomed his smarts, he was, and Harry was trying his hardest – he could see that – to impress him, to learn everything he should already know. He was maybe not the most knowledgeable when it comes to magic, but when he comes to figuring people out he was indeed quite quick.

Harry just shook his head, perplexed, it had just pushed his desire to go home further.

Suspicion begun to thrum through him…perhaps Millicent had been quite correct…perhaps Harry had not seen his parents in the mirror at all. “Perhaps Dumbledore’s mistake is in what he thought you would see if you gazed upon the mirror.” Corvus pointed out thoughtfully, surprised himself, but hiding it well.

Harry narrowed his eyes, “My parents,” Harry scoffed, of course, its what Dumbledore would think, gritting his teeth, to the extent that it actually hurt him. “I hate him,” he really did, it wasn’t the first time Dumbledore had tried to drop his parents into the conversations they’d had, not that there were many of course, since he made sure he was never alone with him. Making it clear he always wanted his head of House with him.

“You aren’t alone in that,” Corvus reassured him, bursting with curiosity, truly wondering exactly what it was that Harry had seen. He wouldn’t ask, it was such an invasion of privacy if he asked, and he knew Harry may feel compelled to answer because of who was doing the asking. No, a gross invasion of privacy it would be. “And do not worry yourself, I will make sure he pays for what he’s done,” catch him off-guard as well, hopefully it would work in their favour.

“Publicly?” Harry asked, eyes gleaming with a vindictive sort of pleasure that pleased Corvus to no end.

“As public as one can get,” Corvus promised, and he always kept his promises, it was just a matter of how long it took to see it through.

Harry’s lips twitched, a grin that showed too much teeth stretching across his face. “Good,”

“Eat up, we need to record how you feel doing your exercise’s, Millicent requires information, to see how you fare, and whether your regimen has been set back.” Corvus explained for the young boy, as always hiding nothing from him. Treating him like an adult, capable of making his own decisions, which he was now, not just due to his status but because of the life he had led. While he would do all he could to take some of the burden from his shoulders – for now – he would help him learn everything about his estate in stages. He had four years to do that, so that Harry was set comfortably into his Lordship by then.

Harry’s brow furrowed, “Did…did she say how much?” it was difficult following the regimen, but he did it, because he wanted to get better. The last thing he wanted was that length of time extended further. Unfortunately, if that was the case…there was not much he could do about it. He wasn’t about to lie, cheat or discard his healers orders.

“This is why she needs to know how much more difficult you find it,” Corvus explained gently, “You were standing up for hours, enchanted as you were, your body was under a considerable amount of strain,” while Dumbledore just stood there and watched not even showing repentance after being found out no doubt.

Seeing Harry’s eyes flash he belatedly realize he had hissed that last statement under his breath, Harry had heard it, but it wasn’t news to Harry, he knew Dumbledore had been there…hadn’t he? Or perhaps not, he hadn’t exactly specified. He had never done such a thing, but considering all Dumbledore had done to Harry, a boy who he had fast come to cherish and love, well, it was hardly surprising he was furious enough to hiss such a thing under his breath.

“After your exercises I have something to show you,” Corvus added, “If you feel up to it, if not definitely after lunch.” He wondered if Dumbledore even knew Harry was already away from Hogwarts and how he was reacting to it. There was no way Filius would have gotten away with Harry without a fight with Dumbledore…and if that had happened the wizard wouldn’t have been as composed he shouldn’t think.

Harry relaxed back into his chair, eating absently, he was finally home. Don’t get him wrong, he likes Hogwarts, likes learning, despite the obvious pains getting around the castle. He was nonetheless grateful to the pain relivers, which made it infinitely much easier to bear. He couldn’t imagine how awful it would have been if he’d stayed in the Dursley’s control and under Dumbledore’s thumb. He wasn’t used to the pain anymore, as evidence by the fact he could barely deal with it earlier. That’s with a great deal of the pains already healing.

“Dumbledore’s trial is coming up, I will more than likely have my lawyer over going over strategic planning. If you have any questions you think you might wish to ask, then feel free to do so.” Corvus explained, as he gratefully ate his own breakfast. “He is in charge of the proceedings along with Dumbledore’s lawyer, who is admittedly very good at his job.”

“And the plans for Azkaban?” Harry asked tentatively, his mind flashing back to what he’d seen in the mirror. He had seen himself graduating Hogwarts, with Corvus, Rabastan and Rodolphus behind him proud of his accomplishments, then graduating collage and university with a degree in law becoming one of the youngest to get his degree. That he’d seen Rabastan and Rodolphus free probably wouldn’t endear him to the general population…but Harry just didn’t care. He cared for Rabastan and Rodolphus he supposed, who he didn’t know as well. He loved Corvus, and Corvus wanted to see his sons free before he passed, wanted to see that his estate would flourish and his name continue – to be a grandfather apparently – before he passed on. Harry would do anything, literally anything to see that accomplished, he owed Corvus everything.

“That is going greater than I expected,” Corvus replied, dark eyes gleaming with victory, “It’s a long way off from being completed but it’s a start. They passed the law, and it will begin I presume in the new year at some point.” He wished he could hurry it through but he knew he could not. All the money in the world couldn’t hurry it up unfortunately. He had Harry to thank for it, for without his knowledge on laws – especially Muggle laws – he wouldn’t have been any the wiser on how to make his sons lives more comfortable.

“Rabastan will be happy with the news!” Harry chirped, imagining the look on his face, the wizard didn’t believe they’d accomplish anything. He didn’t know if it was the effects of the dementors in Azkaban or just the lack of trust in the magical world in general.

“That they will,” Corvus agreed, lips twitching as he observed the boy, it seemed as if his dark mood had abated, he was always able to tell. He could see that Harry was fond of Rabastan, it was taking him longer to warm up to Rodolphus though, given their initial meeting he couldn’t say he was surprised. It also seems as if Harry was determined to go tomorrow, which he was grateful for. He wouldn’t have been surprised if Harry had elected not to go, he had been injured and he was allowed to not go in the event of illness or injury.

They continued chatting as they finished their breakfast, Corvus revealing everything – he shouldn’t really since wizengamot members weren’t supposed to but did anyway – from the meetings. Giving accurate guesses to everyone’s stances and allegiance, Harry would one day step into the wizengamot meetings after all, he had political aspirations, unlike the last few Potters. James Potter had been content as an Auror, never indulging in politics or making changes. Giving brief descriptions of them so that he may figure out who they were when he made his dramatic entrance into wizengamot proceedings. There was no doubt he would find himself with doubt and ridicule due to his age, although he wouldn’t be the only one who had become the last of his house and tried to make change…at a young age. He suspected though, that Harry would succeed where others had failed.

Especially if he learned to use his fame for his own ends and agendas, and considering he was teaching him the best way to go, he knew Harry would do himself, his house and him proud.

---------0

Corvus stretched out, easing the cramp at having been sat at his chair speaking to Millicent through the flames for a good twenty minutes. He had explained everything about his exercises reiterating everything Harry had told him back to her. Not that he was standing long, as he loped back to his desk and sat once again, quill poised as he wrote.

Unsurprisingly Harry had fallen asleep after his workout, something that hadn’t been happening for a while. Which just restarted the anger burning in his chest. According to Millicent though, it hadn’t set his regimen back too far, a week or two at most. He hadn’t been in pain just general discomfort and had felt weak much quicker. He would bounce back quicker than she thought apparently.

She had added a few more items of food that he would be allowed to eat though. Which would give Harry a better variety than he was getting at present, not that Harry seemed particularly annoyed with his limited amounts or the selection given to him. He was just glad to be able to eat that he would take anything given to him.

He also explained mentally there didn’t seem to be any lasting repercussions over what he’d seen. He seemed to be aware of what he had seen, and acknowledged it with an understanding an eleven-year-old shouldn’t have but nonetheless he was well. He didn’t explain father, not that he could, Harry after all hadn’t revealed what he’d seen, and while he was curious, he wouldn’t ask.

Millicent had added that she was glad, and they ended the conversation at that. Corvus added the foods she’d allowed onto the list, the House-elves would know it was amended and act accordingly. They had a copy – which would show the amendments – in the kitchen somewhere, for convenience sake if nothing else.

Once that was done, he glanced at the time and stood once again.

It was time to retrieve Harry for lunch.

----------0

When Harry saw they were leaving the house he almost tripped up in excitement, especially given the fact they were heading towards the animals. Quite honestly, the only thing that would see Harry leaving anything associated with law and politics he’d say was animals. A zoologist, or someone who rehabilitated animals, it would be a waste of Harry’s smarts, but he could see the boy doing it.

“I’ve missed them,” Harry admitted somewhat sheepishly as Corvus grasped out a hand to prevent him falling. In a stark contrast to the last time he’d helped him, Harry did not flinch, back away or even look fearful. Either it was because it was him and he was trusted…or Harry was beginning to realize not all touches hurt. Given what he’d been through the books Corvus been reading…abuse didn’t work that way, the tells they say never fade away, they just become less obvious over time as the victim healed.

“You are terribly attached to them aren’t you?” Corvus said, a small fond smile appearing for a moment. “Animals can tell people’s intentions, they know when they’re in a good place.” The animals had been all he had for the longest time. He spent most of his time with them instead of in the manor, but a lot had changed since then. He was spending more time at the Ministry, at Azkaban now he could see his sons, he was no longer alone and depressed.

“Yes,” Harry admitted without care or pause.

“Have you ever desired a dog or cat?” Corvus queried, content to amble at Harry’s pace. They had nowhere to be today, and if they stayed out until dinner…well it was completely fine.

“I never really thought about it,” Harry admitted, his eyes shadowed, “I wouldn’t ever wish the Dursley’s on anyone let alone an innocent animal, and Petunia loathed dogs, she could barely hide it when Marge visited. I think that’s why she always bought ripper around.” A wry grin on his face.

“If you could have anything in the world, what would you pick?” Corvus asked as they neared the first enclosure.

“I…don’t know,” Harry admitted, shrugging helplessly, he honestly didn’t know.

“Perhaps in time,” Corvus added, not wishing to see the stress lines on Harry’s face become more pronounced.

“Wasn’t this one empty…” Harry said, surprised as they entered the enclosure.

“It was,” Corvus agreed, “But a Alicorn has been badly injured and brought here to be rehabilitated by a good friend of mine.”

“Alicorn? A winged unicorn?” Harry asked, “But I thought they lived in America…” slightly perplexed how it had managed to get over here.

“They do indeed, but as with all creatures…they often get smuggled into the country for wizards amusements or desires to have exotic pets.” Corvus’ lips curled at the thought.

“But why here? Aren’t there sanctuaries for these sorts of animals all over Britain?” Harry asked, gasping at the sight of it, he’d seen a picture…but nothing prepared him for the reality of it being in front of him. It looked so young, and it had bandages wrapped around its back legs and one of its wings.

“There are, but like all things they are full, understaffed or lacking funds to adequately care for hurt or injured animals.” Corvus explained patiently, as he wandered over, petting at the animal, so young and skittish but coming used to his touches. Grabbing the handle of the food trough he begun to feed the animal and Harry was quick to join him, gazing at the animal in awe. That and Lord William Macnair knew the animals had been all he had for the longest time.

“Why is it taking so long to heal?” Harry asked, observing the injuries, it looked as though it had been severely attacked.

“This little one was near death when he was brought to me,” Corvus explained, watching the animal greedily eat what was given to him. “We had to choose which injuries to treat first, internal injuries came first, and the amount of broken bones…well, the potions are going to take a while to get them all.” Not revealing the true extent of the state the poor animal had been in.

“Will his wing recover?” Harry asked immediately, it was so beautiful, gold and white, were the colours, it was mesmerising and so, so soft.

“We believe so,” Corvus explained, “It’s his legs that might never fully recover.” It had its wings and legs broken to prevent taking off he suspected. The damage they had done…was inconceivable. It wasn’t yet known whether the animal would be able to walk without pain or a permanent limp.

The wizard who had did the deed? Well, regretfully he’d become the recipient of a curse’s object that nobody could figure out. His paralysis had so far remained a mystery, as was the pain that constantly shot up his back and legs.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

“Why haven’t you asked what I saw in the mirror?” Harry asked after ten minutes of soothing silence as they tended to the Alicorn in front of them.

He wasn’t surprised Harry had noticed that. “Because that would be inappropriate, your inner desires are your own, Harry, what Dumbledore did…was inconceivable.”

“But is it any different from you asking if I want an animal?” Harry pointed out after a few more minutes of silence as he digested the answer.

“The mirror…doesn’t just show what you think you want, it digs deep enough that it can show you things you’ve never given voice to.” Corvus explained quietly, as he petted at the alicorn from where he sat on the bundle of hay. “It’s private privileged information that should only be seen by your eyes only.”

“I hope it comes true,” Harry said, his eyes glazing as he adopted a far away look in his eyes.

Corvus glanced over at Harry, digesting that information. If he said that, then perhaps what he had seen…was still capable of coming to pass. “Knowing you, you will make sure it does so.” he stated, “For your determination is the most desirable thing about you, Harry.” And it was, his determination to get away from the Dursley’s and Dumbledore’s machinations had allowed him to see the steel core beneath Harry’s battered soul.

Harry’s cheeks reddened at the compliments, his smile was beautiful, bright with genuine joy. “It will.” He swore, he would make it so.

This conversation hadn’t abated his curiosity over what Harry saw, but it had eased him considerably in the knowledge that he was not burdened down with wishes that would never be granted. Thanking Merlin that Harry had not seen his parents long ago lost to him.

They stayed with the Alicorn for a while longer before begun the rest of their rounds. They didn’t spend quite as much time with the others but nonetheless gave them as much attention as they could.

“Oh, did you get Sirius Black’s file?” Harry asked, as they made their way back after having spent fifteen minutes being entertained by the snakes.

“Yes, but there is one problem,” Corvus said, brow furrowed, “Sirius Black’s trial transcripts are missing…and if they aren’t missing then he wasn’t given a trial at all.”

Harry paused, “Did that happen a lot?” his stomach twisting at the thought of innocent people – never mind that the guilty ones didn’t even deserve the horror that was Azkaban – stuck in there because of the Ministry.

“I have no idea,” Corvus revealed darkly, “I would need to find out how many arrests were made before and after Black’s imprisonment and see who is in Azkaban that hasn’t had a trial.”

“If they find out what you’re doing they might…” Harry said, concerned about what they would do just to keep it quiet.

“I know, but this information is all in the public domain, they probably just buried it best they were able. This information helps me in the long run, it might help me get a trial date for the boys.” Using the fact there were wizards and witches in Azkaban who hadn’t received a fair trial? It would shake up everything.

“Why not just inform them of Black and snowball it from there?” Harry questioned, as he removed the wellington boots he had on and sliding into his slippers.

“Because of the…heinousness of Black’s supposed crimes,” Corvus told him immediately, “Anything surrounding the Potters, I’m afraid would garner a great deal of negative attention and it would be difficult to get them to feel any sympathy for Black illegally incarcerated or not.”

“Supposedly? You don’t believe he did it?” Harry asked, looking up at Corvus as he closed the back door behind them, letting them into the warmth of the manor.

“My sons don’t believe him guilty…me? I am going to hold judgement. Orion and walburga were big supporters of the Dark Lord despite the fact they didn’t join him after the Knights were disbanded. Regulus most definitely joined, unfortunately, he went missing…I wouldn’t be surprised if Sirius went the same way and became a spy…the fact that he wasn’t given a trial, still displeases me,” there had been a lot of self-preservation going on, but unfortunately, as close as he was to the Dark Lord he didn’t know everything. Tom definitely had a lot of spies though, and kept them close to his vest.

“What if it was me trying to get him a trial?” Harry asked thoughtfully, nobody would think badly of that now would they?

“It’s possible,” Corvus mused thoughtfully as they sat down in the sitting room. “Is it something you’d really want? It’s a long arduous process and there is no saying whether you’d be successful or not…” which was true enough.

“Whereas if you pull enough the trials would begin almost immediately?” Harry figured out quite quickly what it would take.

“It’s easier to ignore injustice if it was one person…but if there are more than one they wouldn’t dare to try hide the truth for the fallout would be a hundred times worse if they realized the government knew the truth and blatantly tried to hide it.” Corvus explained, “Oh, they’ll want to, there is no doubt about that, but they won’t.”

“I’ll leave it until we know whether you’ll find anything then,” Harry conceded, anything that helped Corvus get his sons back.

“Do you wish to talk to your godfather?” Corvus asked, using Black’s title where Harry was concerned for the first time.

Harry shrugged, entirely indifferent towards Sirius Black. He didn’t hate him, hadn’t known he existed really, and had no reason to like him. There were conflicting stories regarding Black, like whether he actually betrayed his parents or not, either way he had obviously blown up a group of nearby Muggles though…so the chances of him getting out of Azkaban was slim even if he got a trial. “I don’t see the point, even if he isn’t guilty of betraying my parents…he still killed thirteen Muggles, he wont get out for a long time after that…” was there any point to getting attached to more people that were in Azkaban that might never be part of his life? He was already attached to Rabastan as it was, and with no guarantee he could help him. He would give it his all of course, that was all he could do.

“If you change your mind I will get the forms for you,” Corvus promised, he’d only be able to visit him once a year same as it had been for him. The laws when it came to visitation rights was downright diabolical but that would change. It was only going to take time. Time and effort, but Corvus didn’t mind putting either on the line.

“Okay,” Harry agreed, the subtle scents of dinner was beginning to waft through the air, dinner would be ready within the next hour, his stomach grumbled hungrily at the thought.

“Do you have homework?” Corvus asked, watching Harry pick up a book he was reading.

“Yes, some, its in my trunk,” Harry said, “Back at Hogwarts…” he didn’t like the thought that his things had been left behind.

“It is in your room, Flitwick saw that it was brought here.” Corvus explained, not that he’d saw the wizard, he’d felt the wards go off and instructed the elf to gather Harry’s things from the edge of the wards and take them to his room. Harry had just woken from his nap after lunch. “You can begin working on it after the weekend, for now just relax.” He was going soft, normally homework would come first…but Harry had the entire holidays to do his homework.

Perhaps time after that, he was quite frankly…tempted to keep Harry off for the remainder of the year. He would still pass his first year exams, he would ensure that, pay for it too. The cost was pocket change to have Harry take his exams at the Ministry instead of Hogwarts. All home-schooled children go through the same thing. It wasn’t uncommon to take exams at the Ministry.

He might even make a friend or two while waiting before and after the exams.

--------0

Saturday

Rabastan blinked blearily, upon hearing the loud clanging of the door to his cell. He was aware that it was Saturday, he kept a very detailed schedule when it comes to the days, days not dates unfortunately. Saturday was…a godsend to him, he got most of the day without a single Dementor presence, so what wasn’t to love about it?

Truthfully though, it was more to do with Harry. He was fond of the boy, he was smart, cunning, and very, very thoughtful with his gifts. His room, as dreary and dank as it was…also housed everything Harry had given him, and the majority of the boxes he’d given over time. A great deal many of them had been ripped down and were used as flooring or extra padding for under his bed, the mattress was fine, but the metal slats weren’t kind to his back, but with the cardboard the indentations on the mattress wasn’t obvious and gave him more stability.

The books he kept in the boxes, and stacked them like drawers in the corner nearest the door in a neat pile. Along with everything else that he didn’t have on his bed. Which included the top box for the food, which was as always, gone by the time Saturday came around.

He had pillows and throws, that had warming charms on them, and as he’d found out last night…it didn’t get wet. He’d been near inconsolable when the water smashed against the building and slushed into his room. All over his bed, he’d thought for sure he’d lost it, the smell would have been atrocious eventually…but it beaded up and rolled right off. He would need to find a way to thank the boy for his ingenuity and forethought.

“Let’s go,” the guard called out, since he wasn’t so…out of it they didn’t touch him. instead he was able to walk out under his own power…and he didn’t need to tell you that was a power trip all on its own considering he wouldn’t have been able to do that months ago.

Rabastan gave a nod, well aware the guards could make his life even more miserable than it already was. Self-preservation at its finest, and he was a Slytherin, he wasn’t too proud to give in when required. The other guard was five steps behind, and both of them guided him to the meeting room, a room that was becoming as familiar as his cell to him. He ignored the shrieking of the other prisoners, from other levels, the ones on his level were always mostly quietly.

He was the first one there, his brother hadn’t been brought in yet. A plastic cup of the lukewarm hot chocolate – which he didn’t consider hot chocolate it was warm water to him – was waiting on him as second cup just a little bit further away from his brother. He was tempted not to bother drinking it, but eventually the cold had him drinking it just in order to stay warm. He hated coming out of his bed, where he was always warm.

No more than ten minutes later the door opened, and the two guards brought in Rodolphus, who as always wasn’t as healthy and cogent as him. Rodolphus didn’t get to eat, to read, to keep warm, to mentally recuperate from the dementors, not like he did.

It was taking less and less time for Rodolphus to get a grip of his surroundings though. As seen as Rodolphus at first groggy, became aware of his surroundings and eager gripped a hold of the plastic cup of disgusting hot chocolate. You would think he wouldn’t be able to tolerate that after drinking Harry’s. Which by the way, he wasn’t being anywhere condescending but his was better than the House-elves recipe he’d grown up with and that was nothing to screw your nose up at.

Once Rodolphus had drunk the hot chocolate, which was quick and easy to do. He immediately took his brother in a hug, the contact soothed both of them immensely. Going so long without human contact…it was sometimes worse than anything the dementors could dole out to you.

“I should have told Black everything before signing that contract,” Rodolphus grumbled into his brothers chest, the way the asshole was looking at him as he passed his cell today had set him off – something easily done – especially in here where you had no power over anything.

Right now you’d think that Rabastan was the eldest brother the way they were acting.

Rabastan stiffened minutely hearing that, drawing back, gazing at his brother intently. “Have you said anything?”

“No, but can you imagine the look on his face if I told him?” Rodolphus sneered vindictively, if he was going to suffer he wanted everyone around him to suffer too. Except of course his brother.

Relaxing a bit hearing his reply, “Don’t do anything that will jeopardise this, Rod, don’t do that to yourself,” to me, he thought desperately. If the contract was voided Harry didn’t need to come here. Wouldn’t come here. They wouldn’t see their father every week, and he’d begin getting weak again, he definitely didn’t want that. It was quite frankly his worse nightmare come to life. No, he definitely didn’t want to be the one to break the contract.

“I can’t anyway, you know this, the contract would prevent the words from passing my lips.” Rodolphus pointed out almost pouting, he truly did wish to see the look on Black’s face. Would he have had the same look when he found out about him and Bellatrix or would it be worse? He knew Black wasn’t on the Dark Lord’s side, he knew. He was innocent of betraying the Potters…although he did like the fact Black had gotten rid of some of the filth that inhabited the earth. Muggles were the most foul things on the plant polluting the world with their presence.

Considering he spent his days surrounding by Dementors who were actually considered the foulest thing on the planet that was saying a lot.

“I’m grateful for that,” Rabastan said dryly, he truly was. His brother’s mouth probably wouldn’t have stayed closed long, no filter, no care of the consequences due to the horror that his every day life was. The depression and deep seated fear that he’d die here. He should know, he too shared the exact same feelings.

Before long the door opened, this time it was Harry and Corvus who made an entrance.

Rabastan narrowed his eyes on Harry, “What happened?” he was slower than normal, his gait slightly off.

Corvus chuckled, levelling his son with an impressed look, “He’s fine, or will be,” Corvus explained as Harry sat down and produced four hot chocolates from the box before passing it over to Rabastan and sitting down, giving each of them one of the aromatic hot chocolates he’d made.

Harry remained silent while Corvus explained what happened with a hard look on his face. One that was mirrored by both his sons. Whether they liked him or not, they hated Dumbledore more so it was easy to get offended.

There was a dark silence filling the room for more than five minutes but no longer than ten.

“Can I ask why you had the covers impervious to water?” Rabastan asked Harry, it had been on his mind since he found out. Completely happy that it was but curious as to why exactly he had done it. He rather hoped it wasn’t because he believed him to be incontinent. Now that would fill him with a new horror.

“The first time I met you, your feet and legs were wet,” Harry said, grateful for the change of subject and lack of angry silence and latching on immediately. “The rest of you was fine, one of the times I noticed during the harsher weather that water was seeped all over the floor in here, wasn’t hard to figure out that they don’t even give you the comfort of making sure the damn water doesn’t get inside the cells.” He didn’t even want to get started on the damn rats, they had spells, they could damn well use spells to stop the water, to stop the rats but they didn’t.

“Observant little shit isn’t he?” Rodolphus muttered, but his tone was wry showing he didn’t mean it in a harsh way but he was far from being awed by Harry.

That day was still to come.

“It’s why I wanted to make a throw that was big enough for any bed you have…I mean you have a proper one right? Not one of those foldable camp beds?” Harry asked, wincing in remembrance of his own experiences on them. “They’re awful, so I hope not,”

Corvus arched an eyebrow, “Oh?” it wasn’t often he was offered up memories or a lot of information when it came to Harry’s actual life with the Dursley’s. Enough to want to kill them, the diagnosis was enough to reveal everything…but yes, Harry wasn’t forthcoming with much information.

“It’s not like a bed was going to fit in my bedroom, it was a cupboard.” Harry said bluntly, “The cupboard under the stairs, I couldn’t stand up in it after I reached five years old.” That’s with being starved for Merlin’s sake.

It was going to be one of those days, thought Rabastan as he grasped his hand into a fist fury thrumming through him. Breathing evenly he succeeded in relaxing his fist and begun to rummage around in the box. His fingers happened upon a smooth globe like thing.

He quickly found out that it was a light, he wouldn’t need to use magic, just rubbing the rune would cast it aglow. Then another rub to shut it off, if he wanted to…especially during the days – this time of year in fact – where there was hardly any light…he’d be able to read.

Unable to help himself, he stood up rounded the table and brought Harry into a hug. “Thank you,” he whispered into his ear. Truly grateful for everything the boy was doing, he knew his father had no part in it, he was just as fascinated with the globe as the rest of them were.

They were unaware of the other property that would turn out to be extremely useful…but they’d find out soon enough.

Harry gratefully returned the hug, warmth suffusing him. neither wizard were as thin and sickly as they used to be.

Rodolphus rolled his eyes at the pair of them, but he had a fond glimmer in his eye. Anyone that looked after his brother was alright by him.

As they were due to leave, Rabastan said just one sentence, just one sentence to his father. Imbuing the demand into his voice that wasn’t to be taken as a suggestion, “Torture and kill them,” screw making them suffer long term, they deserved death.

His father didn’t need clarification on who he was talking about.

He knew.

 

--------0

I sort of wish I had done a Rabastan's POV long before this, but unfortunately I didn't think to do so but oh well! I can have him thinking back on things at a later date! although Rodolphus' POV would be similar to how Rabastan's was! 10k words this is in two days! I just wish my muses were always so cooperative on all my stories! so will there be more to the globe than meets the eye? How long do you think it would take for someone to get all the information about criminals and trials (or the lack of one) around the time and including missing documents and conveniently misplaced ones? years might be a bit far fetched but a few months might seem a bit too quick! it 's a long gruelling task for certain information so how long do you reckon it will be before they have it? Will Harry eventually go talk to Black before the trial? Or will the first time he meets him is when he's blindsided like he was in Prisoner of Azkaban? Will Harry want anything to do with Sirius? Will Sirius be able to deal with the boy his godson is? Will Corvus listen to his son and put down the Dursley family? leaving Vernon Dursley to last or will it be Petunia that suffers most before Corvus finally gives her the reprieve of death after maximising their suffering? R&R please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 20

Corvus desperately desired to comply with his sons wishes. For it was the first thing he’d really asked for – the demands that he drop their hopeless cases didn’t get included – in the years since he’d been put in Azkaban. Unfortunately, he couldn’t bring himself to go behind Harry’s back and dole out the much needed punishment that this situation merited. In the end he had decided on one course of action, he’d paid someone handsomely to attack – but not kill – Vernon Dursley in jail. Marge Dursley received similar treatment, but from what he was told, she had been attacked dozens of times anyway, her attitude with the other inmates made her very unpopular. There was nothing strange about the attacks, after all, everyone knows how child abusers were treated.

As for Petunia Dursley she’d been in an ‘very unfortunate’ accident, with those Muggle automobiles weeks ago. He had felt she wasn’t suffering enough, so a few spells here and there, and bam, she was hospital bound. Her landing in hospital, and without a soul to care for her son, Dudley Dursley had gone into care, and from what he knew, the boy was on a strict diet and miserable due to the rigidness of a stern family life he wasn’t used to. Anything he tried was a strike against him, bullying, sneaking food, arguing back, it meant grounding, less television time, no dessert at the weekend – which he was allowed a small portion if he behaved – which had already been removed due to his attitude each week. So yes, so far, Dudley was miserable. The added clincher was attending normal school, in a district not his own. Smelting’s had long been gone from the list of possibilities for Dudley Dursley after they lost a fortune.

On the upside, Dudley had already lost nearly two stone, long term, if he remained there his health would be all the better for it.

So, the Dursley’s had one miserable Yule or Christmas as it were. Last year they were albeit small family, spoiling their son, giving him more gifts than natural, spoiling him to the extent that he failed to realize how lucky he had been. This year? Vernon and Marge were in prison, recovering from their beatings, Petunia was recovering from her accident all of them alone stewing in their misery.

And Dudley? Dudley was too, after loudly decrying them when all he got was four gifts, two of them bundles of clothes and no gift that he’d actually wanted. So, thusly, he had been relegated to his bedroom to think on what he had done, with the warning he would get any Yule Log if he continued to disrupt Christmas.

A stark contrast to Harry, who was positively beaming instead of watching with longing from his cupboard.

“Are you ready to go?” Corvus asked Harry as he wandered into the kitchen, it wasn’t somewhere he frequented all that often. He had House-elves for that sort of thing, to fetch whatever he needed, whenever he needed. This was their domain, and why they had been hired in the first place, this and cleaning the well kept and immaculate manor. Admittedly a few had been hired especially to deal with the animals, but for most part, he did that on his own, they only did it when he couldn’t, such as the time he had the flu or that time he’d done his back in. Or long drawn out Wizengamot meetings.

“Almost,” Harry said, throwing Corvus a grin, almost jumping up and down excitedly, you wouldn’t think he was going to Azkaban at all. Yet Harry didn’t care, he’d been so happy after he’d gotten over Dumbledore’s recent actions and the knowledge he’d be dealt with. Although…it may have something to do with the missives he’d let Harry read regarding the Dursley’s just earlier that very morning. “I just need to put these in,” with that two meals set with metal warmers – or coolers – around it, were placed in the box along with four hot chocolate flagons. All already spelled so the contents could not leak out, especially with the way the guards shifted everything to check.

“Are you sure you don’t want to open your Yule gifts before we go?” Corvus asked, still in slight disbelief that he hadn’t been alerted that Harry was downstairs at the early hours of the morning. He’d gotten up at his normal time, and had looked shocked to see the gifts under the tree, stunned to hear that they were for him. It made Corvus wish to throttle the Dursley’s all over again. Gifts from other students at Hogwarts had come, along with a ‘mysterious package’ which he knew to be from Dumbledore, he saw enough of his writing on legislations and such that he’d pegged it immediately. He had also removed the spells upon the package, the tracking charm had been the first to go, thankfully his wards prevented such spells from actively working. Thus, Dumbledore won’t know where Harry was living. The cheek of it though almost left him furious enough that he’d desired to break everything in his vicinity.

“I’m sure,” Harry said, while he felt excited and so, so, so happy that he had gifts to open…part of him worried needlessly that it was a trick. It wouldn’t be the first time it happened to him. No, he wasn’t going to remember the Dursley’s or the horrible Yule’s of the past. They were suffering, and that was enough to settle the feelings of inadequacy and darkness that wanted revenge inside of him.

“Very well then,” Corvus said with softness that nobody other his sons and Harry would ever hear. “Did you send your gifts off with Hedwig?” it was small trinkets he’d bought from an Owl Order this past week, when he learned it was…proper to give gifts to those you were friends and acquaintances with. The gift and what you give them, marks the subtle current on how their relationship would proceed. Harry had wrinkled his brow, slightly confused, he couldn’t remember the Dursley’s ever giving out gifts to anyone except maybe Marge and he honestly cant remember anyone other than Marge and the Dursley’s giving Dudley gifts but he’d been so often relegated to the cupboard so what did he know?

So the social necessity had been a rather baffling thing for him. there was even politics in what you give someone, especially someone like the Malfoy family. He had aided him in his efforts, suggesting a few things and allowing Harry to pick his final choice of items. He wasn’t afraid of spending money, Corvus observed, but then again, Harry would never have to worry about money again, the investments both past and on-going – he was giving Harry tips – well, he’d always have money coming into his account. Plus, what he’d spent so far…hadn’t even put a dent in his trust fund.

As always, Harry felt warmth spread through him at every realisation that Corvus actually listened to him, he paid attention to him when he spoke, what he did. Corvus remembered the name of his owl, and it wasn’t as if he spoke of her often, and not only that he’d gotten her a lovely cage and plenty of yummy mice to eat. “I sent them this morning after I did my exercises,” he had used a few owls, obviously, Hedwig couldn’t take them all, she hadn’t been best pleased judging by the hoot of indignation that came from her. Except for the Malfoy gifts, which he would be giving them in person, much to his dismay.

“You used the House-elves I hope?” sincerely hoping that Harry hadn’t gone to the Owlery after doing his exercises.

“Yes,” Harry admitted, slightly shamefaced, but he knew he wouldn’t have been able to go up all those stairs after doing his exercise regimen.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, they like being able to help, and you know by now what happens to House-elves who do not have masters for an extended period of time.” Corvus stated, it had been one of the first things he made sure Harry understood. Understood logically, yes, but it didn’t mean the boy agreed with it, and that was fine. Corvus wasn’t going to force the boy into changing his mind or getting his own House-elves. Although, Corvus suspected there were probably dozens of House-elves strewn all over the properties

“I didn’t expect to be allowed to visit on Yule,” Harry confessed as he finished packing up the rest of the food he’d made.

“Magic cannot be changed to give allowances for important dates such as Yule.” Corvus explained, which was true enough, if his birthday fell on a Saturday he would be attending whether he wished to or not, unless of course, he was hurt or injured.

“Makes sense, plus Yule isn’t the most important day in the Celtic calendar,” Harry said, as always eager to show off what he’d learned. “It’s the equinoxes,”

“That’s correct,” Corvus agreed, it was a good job Harry had an exceptional mind and was able to remember knowledge he was pouring into that wonderful brain of his. No matter how obscure the information, Harry retained it, he didn’t by any means have Hyperthymesia or superior autobiographical memory or the laymen term photographic memory but he did remember a great deal of information that he read.

--------0

Rabastan’s entire body strained as he did yet another push up, he was pushing himself farther than before. He’d successfully managed to do four more than normal, but that might have something to do with the fact the dementors were giving his cell a wide berth. An extra push up had his arms giving out beneath him.

Breathing heavily, he groaned at the pain the strain caused, but it was a good pain. He was getting strong, healthier, and in the long run it would do him good. Even if he never got out of here, which he didn’t honestly believe would happen despite his fathers best attempts, he would try to get as much enjoyment as possible out of life right now. Rolling over onto his back, he stared at the globe with a look of reverence on his face.

After his breathing had returned to normal, Rabastan shakily made his way to his bed, able to do so smoothly and without hurting his knees due to the two layers of cardboard that had been placed everywhere to replace the cold grooved flooring and little stones and rubble bits from tearing into his flesh. The globe was lit, despite daylight spilling into his room, in fact, he had it on twenty-four hours a day, and he sincerely hoped it didn’t stop working.

Fishing under his pillows, he withdrew the book, it would be his second time reading this one, since he’d read all three books and the magazines Harry had brought in for him already. It helped to keep his mind active, but he genuinely enjoyed it, he just wished he could use magic, he missed it. The feel of a wand in his grasp, the smug satisfaction of performing spells correctly, the experimenting that came with it. He’d always been good with experimenting, his brother and father were not quite as adept as him.

He couldn’t help but wonder what books Harry would bring him this time, or what other items he’d bring with him. Since it was Saturday, he had no worries about going hungry, and so Rabastan snagged the last chocolate from the box at the side of his bed and unwrapped it before greedily chomping on it. He found he was eating less chocolate, which was probably a good thing for his health. If his father actually succeeded in having the dementors presence downgraded to a few hours…the change it would have on everyone would be…amazing. Those in here would actually be able to think again, instead of constantly being trapped in their mind. Wasn’t it enough they were being punished? Stripped of their freedom and unable to use magic without forcing them to lose their mind too?

Stretching out, stopping his muscles from seizing up, absently reading the book on Defence, just new out last year, and he must be a glutton for punishment, the desire to use the spells was strong. Merlin, he missed using magic so much. It was the worst of all this, feeling his magic and being unable to use it.

Half an hour later, and dozens of pages read, Rabastan stiffened, the sound of clanging and footsteps coming along the corridor alerted him to the fact the guards were on the move. Scrambling towards the globe, he wiped his thumb against it, and the rune and glow died down immediately afterwards. Shivering and shuddering as the Dementors closed in, only for it to dissipate, presumably because the guards Patronus’ was making the Dementor lay off.

It must be time. The guards don’t actually wander the halls much, leaving it to the dementors. They only came around when they had to, when someone was being escorted to the meeting rooms. Happened a lot once a year, when those that actually got to meet someone. Other than that, it was rather quiet, with the occasional prisoner being taken out. Until now.

“It’s time,” came the familiar voice of the guard he was used to. He’d noticed they had lost their harsh edge when dealing with him. Although, judging by the looks on their faces they were definitely not pleased to be working today, hung-over? Oh, that was another thing he missed, alcohol, Merlin, he’d do just about anything for a tipple of firewhisky.

Rabastan got to his feet, wincing a little at the burn in his thighs, he’d maybe done a bit too much. Fortunately, though, when he started walking, the aches sort of disappeared, or didn’t become more prominent. The guard stepped out, letting Rabastan vacate his cell, and between the two guards he was led down to the room. Somewhere Rabastan reckoned he could actually get to blindfolded by now.

He took a seat, and the guards left, he knew one would be waiting outside, while the other went for Rodolphus. His mind was sharper and more aware than it had ever been before, noticing things he wouldn’t have noticed a few weeks ago, it was a damn miracle really. He was so relieved, so grateful, and he couldn’t wait to find out what he’d done.

One would never guess he’d grown up in a Muggle household. Like a Muggle-born, no the politically correct term was Muggle raised – not that he cared about being PC a Mudblood was a Mudblood in his book – and the boy wasn’t one even if his mother had been.

He was abruptly jerked out of his reverie as his brother was escorted in, it would be maybe ten minutes now before his father and Harry would be escorted in. He’d finally get his answers.

“How you feeling?” Rabastan asked his brother, pleased with his coherency.

“I’m alright,” Rodolphus grunted, not really in the mood to talk overly much, he never was these days. The memories along with how much his body ached, he just…he was tired, so very tired. Even a little bit jealous of his brother, not enough to wish it away, of course, but just a little envious.

“Yeah, I get it,” Rabastan murmured, he might not be as bad off as his brother, but he had experienced the same length of time as his brother and knew the despair and desire to off oneself while stuck in here, and not having years to count down until freedom was granted. They were stuck in here with a life sentence. They were here until they were buried in a hole in the ground unless their bodies were giving back to their father, if he survived longer than them, considering the health hazards it might not be difficult to imagine his father outliving them.

A few moments later, two hot chocolates were plonked in front of them by an apologetic guard. “We’re on skeleton crew today,” he offered in explanation.

The two just stared at him uncomprehendingly, “What’s happened?” Rabastan finally asked, heart pounding like a drum.

“Oh, it’s Yule, we always only have a few guards on this day,” he added, waving away any concern they might have had over something cataclysmic happening. Not giving them a customary Yule greeting, it probably wouldn’t be well received, happy Yule tidings, right, happy, that was the last thing anyone in here was. Including them, the island made them all miserable.

Surprise flittered through the Lestrange brothers gazes, as the guard walked away, his stride fast as he made his way outside. Which was quickly explained, as Harry and Corvus made their entrance not two minutes later.

“Happy Yule! They wouldn’t let me bring in the tree though,” Harry said, a sly smirk on his face showing he was joking with them.

At least the brothers assumed he was kidding…he had to be right?

“I brought in something warm today, I wasn’t sure if they’d let me,” Harry conceded, especially with the warming and cooling charms on the items. Fortunately, Harry had claimed sharing a meal was customary, especially as he was the ‘consort’ and had to prove he could provide sustenance for his would-be-husband.

“But as always, Harry likes to get the guards worked up,” Corvus said wryly, shaking his head in bemusement. He hadn’t held off even for a moment, just bluntly laid out the terms of a betrothal contract to the bamboozled guards. They hadn’t argued much either, he assumed because it was Yule either that or they just want the day over with so they could return home themselves.

“What did you put in that globe?” Rabastan demanded, sounding very, very curt without meaning to. Only to begin drooling at the sight of Yule dinner with trimmings and all that was set out in front of him. “I apologise…I didn’t mean to sound so curt,” he added, purely for his fathers’ benefit, or so he deluded himself.

Rodolphus almost sobbed as a tray of warm food was sat in front of him. The hot chocolate and butterbeer he realized was sat next. Merlin, he could have stood up and kissed the boy for his kindness and generosity. There weren’t proper cutlery but he honestly didn’t care, he’d eat it with the plastic fork and knife without bother.

“What’s the problem with the globe? Has it stopped working already?” Corvus queried as they took sat down for their meal. Harry had done a great deal of the preparation and cooking on his own, the rest was done by the harangued House-elves, they did not like Harry taking over, but they would never give voice to it. Corvus had sat with him to keep him company before leaving to get ready to see his boys, only to find everything packed up and ready to go, including it seemed, their own meal.

Harry frowned, slightly disappointed, “I spent ages on that,” he grumbled, assuming that it was the problem without waiting for Rabastan to give his answer.

“What did you use to make it? What spells?” Rabastan asked, focusing mostly on Harry, still desperately desiring an answer.

“Um,” Harry murmured, genuinely taken aback by Rabastan’s sudden interest, he’d been a little curious last week…but this week it was intense. “I used only one Rune, you’ll know it, it’s the light rune…” Harry pointed out, assuming it was the runes Rabastan was interested in.

“But what spells?” Rabastan asked, surely there had to be more than just a light rune on the globe. He could feel the magic emanating from it, and clearly the dementors could as well. It was no coincidence that they started avoiding the door of his cell the moment he had that thing on.

“Um, cheering charm, Patronus charm and something that gets rid of dark creatures…I was just trying to help,” Harry said defending himself.

The silence and lack of eating clued Harry in on the fact something was wrong.

“What?” Harry asked, looking worried, “I sort of used an old shield spell so they wouldn’t detect it?” it was more of a question than a statement.

“Patronus charm?” Corvus asked calmly even if he was anything but, “You tried that spell?”

“It repels dementors, I wanted to help,” Harry pointed out, bewildered by the silence, his stomach feeling anxious so much so that he stopped eating.

“And what exactly emerged from your wand?” Corvus asked casually, he’d be very surprised if Harry even got a wisp of smoke to emerge. That spell was notoriously difficult to perform for adults, it had taken him considerable amount of lessons to perfect it. Four months, as a matter of fact, seven if you included the fact he hadn’t been able to cast it properly when he’d been in the presence with the dementors.

“A raven,” Harry stated simply, brow furrowing at the looks on their faces.

“A…raven? You observed your Patronus? It took a distinctive form? You are not merely guessing what it could be?” Corvus asked, heart pounding dangerously loud and fast in his chest. Glancing at his sons, the raven was their animal of choice, on their crest, could Harry see them as his guardian? His protector? He couldn’t believe he was thinking of this with an eleven-year-old boy! Could it be true? Could Harry be capable of producing a fully-fledged Patronus at such a young age? His magical core shouldn’t be capable of that much…especially given he hadn’t used it before he came to Hogwarts and had his core connecting to a wand.

“It was pure white but definitely a raven…” Harry said, beginning to eat again now that his nerves had settled.

“Merlin’s balls,” Rodolphus muttered, leaning back, stumped by what he’d just heard. All he could think was if the boy wasn’t lying, which he didn’t think he was, then it was a good job they got him away from Dumbledore.

“We’ll discuss it when we get home,” Corvus declared the conversation over with.

“Sure,” Harry said, still slightly bemused over the entire thing really.

“Do you even feel challenged at Hogwarts?” Rabastan managed to find something to say, while his mind reeled over the fact an eleven-year-old kid could produce a bloody Patronus.

“It’s alright, the homework makes it better,” Harry told them shrugging his shoulders. He assumed it would get more difficult as the years went on. plus, there was so much information to learn, between the books Corvus got him and the library. “Oh and the books Corvus sends!”

They had nothing to say about that, powerful and smart, maybe they would get to hear what becomes of him if they never get out of here. They remained silent as they properly dug into their food, absently drinking the hot chocolate first to savour the butterbeer later, which they could feel was still cool to touch. The food though…honestly was the best he’d ever eaten. He might be a bit biased though…Rabastan wasn’t the only one thinking this.

“House-elves make the food better than I remember,” Rodolphus murmured, licking his lips, “But then again…anyone would think that after living off of crap for the past decade.” A self-depicting grin on his face.

“Thank you, but I’m hardly a House-elf,” Harry chimed in, making it clear he had actually made the food and he hadn’t just implied that to the guards to get the food in. “But they did make the Yule Log,”

Rodolphus and Rabastan both groaned, “Seriously? That cake is to die for!” Rabastan clutched his stomach almost dramatically. He honestly didn’t think he’d have enough room to enjoy it all, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to leave it, hell no, he was going to scrape off the bottom of it. Oh, this was turning out to be one of the best days in over a decade. Not that it required much.

Corvus just chuckled quietly, watching over his three favourite people in the world as they dug into the chocolate goodness the House-elves had made. Smeared with freshly made cream it was quite frankly one of the best Christmas’ he’d had in a long, long time. Bellatrix had made the last few he’d had with his sons intolerable, she was always on the warpath. He shook his head just thinking about it.

“What’s wrong?” Rabastan asked, noticing his fathers souring mood. “Besides the obvious that is,” with a glance around the room. Scooping up another generous helping of his cake and eating it.

“Just remembering the last few Yules’ we had at the manor,” Corvus explained, watching Rodolphus cringe, yeah, those times hadn’t been pretty at all. Every celebration, every happy occasion Bellatrix just bulldozed over it and made it one of tension and upset.

“What happened? What was it like?” Harry asked, a hopeful hint in his voice, he would love to hear what wizarding families were like even if things had happened. “Do you do the rites and rituals?”

Rodolphus smirked, “We did every year, I’m sure father will make sure you can perform the rites easily,”

“Will we?” Harry asked, his eyes finding Corvus’

“We will,” Corvus agreed, even if he hadn’t had any intentions of doing so, those eyes would have forced him to reconsider.

“Yes!” Harry said, grinning so wide his face hurt. “Some of them sound like fun!” there were different ways that they had of doing rituals, and honestly, he just loved learning and doing things with Corvus. He was simply the best, and Harry only wished he’d met him sooner.

“They were,” Rodolphus agreed, his heart twinging, he’d always wanted a son, someone to share his life with. To teach all the rituals to, in order to keep the long standing traditions going. If he’d married someone else…could he have had a son visiting him? Would he have even risked going after the Longbottoms? Then again, it hadn’t been his idea, so if he had married someone else…he wouldn’t have gone to the Longbottoms and wouldn’t have ended up incarcerated. Although, an argument could be made that he might not have done if he and Bellatrix had a kid. “A lot of our old rituals are in French, since that’s where we originated from.”

“Did you do what I asked last week?” Rabastan asked his father.

“That’s funny that, the Malfoy’s are too, like a lot of the old pureblood’s as well, I mean are there any wizards and witches lines that go back to old times here in Britain?” Harry said, “I know mine does, but nobody else.”

“No, that is for someone else to decide,” Corvus admitted, giving Harry a pointed look from the corner of his gaze. Making it clear to his son that their death, when they occurred, would happen with Harry’s approval and prior consent.

“Someone else approves?” Rabastan asked, impressed despite himself, as he often was these days. There was a big difference between getting revenge and an actual desire to kill. Especially at that age, even he and Rod hadn’t wished anyone dead at that point in their lives.

“You’re not being very subtle, you know,” Harry said in a volume slightly raised, “I heard you last week, small room,” and wasn’t that the truth.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Corvus asked in surprise.

Harry shrugged, “I wanted to see what you’d do,” he revealed honestly.

“Just when I’m sure he’s a Ravenclaw through and through he does and says something like that,” Rabastan groaned, shaking his head honestly.

“You were testing me,” Corvus grouched, sounding like a crotchety old man. Slightly proud and slightly appalled that he hadn’t seen it. It was a little wonder he’d practically lit up seeing the information about the Dursley’s this morning. “I think it’s safe to say I’ve passed?” wryly.

“Depends on my mood,” Harry added, somewhat shyly.

That had the three Lestranges chuffing in amusement.

“I brought you a gift,” Harry said, offering to Rodolphus first since it was his he pulled out first.

“Very thoughtful, thank you,” Rodolphus said the words with an echo of saying it often in the past. There was a wistfulness to his tone as he accepted the gift, opening it immediately, arching a brow when he saw that it was a pendant in an odd shape. He picked up, noticing the clasp was undone.

“Have you…have you made a bloody rune out of…strips of leather?” Rabastan muttered, looking at it over his brothers shoulder.

“Is that even possible?” Rodolphus asked, unlike his brother, he didn’t care much for Runes.

“I…wouldn’t have thought so…unless…” Rabastan twisted the black leather around in his hand, careful not to dislodge the stone from its place. “Blood rune? You’ve imbued the damn leather with blood…that’s bloody brilliant actually.” Was there not anything this boy couldn’t do?

“I actually used the blood of an Alicorn, it’s magic all on its own,” and not silver like an actual unicorns was much to his surprise.

“What does it do?” Rodolphus asked, quite perplexed by the gift, if anything it was more fit for something his brother would prefer.

“Well, the actual blood rune makes it invisible the moment it’s clipped on and together, watch…” Harry clipped the ends together, and the pendant disappeared, harnessed by the blood and the fact the leather was designed in a rune shape. “And see the pendant? It’s hollowed out cubic zirconia, and has the same spells as the globe has in it.” he’d just hoped to make Rodolphus happier, but obviously the globe worked better than he’d anticipated, and now Rodolphus would benefit too. He was so happy that he’d thought to do this.

“Where exactly do you find the time to get your ideas?” Corvus asked, you’d think he never spend any time with the child by the looks of it. Yet, surprisingly he did, a great deal of the day they spent with each other and nearly all night depending on whether he had to leave for a while. “Let alone do them?” It did explain the fact he had wished for the remnants of the Alicorn’s blood though. They’d taken its blood to make sure there was no more underlying issues, and it was recovering well. They still didn’t know about his legs or wing.

“I write them on a spare piece of parchment,” Harry said blithely. “I keep a piece of parchment on me all the time, just in case.”

“I thought that was a bookmark,” Corvus felt like slapping himself for not noticing sooner.

“It does double as one,” Harry nodded, “I…ooof!” Harry grunted as he found himself hoist from his feet and wrapped up in a hug from one very grateful Rabastan. His brother patted him on the shoulder, feeling as awkward as he looked. “Thank you,” he murmured, gratitude shining through his dark eyes, that were much like his fathers.

“You’re welcome Rodolphus,” Harry said definitely shy this time, “It will remain hidden, but the light…I’m not sure if the light will, you’ll need to be careful…and not let anyone see it when it’s lit.” he told him sheepishly, he hadn’t thought to test the light. Corvus gripped one of his hands and squeezed it lightly in gratitude and thanks.

And Harry stood, with Rabastan hugging him, Rodolphus patting his shoulder, and Corvus squeezing his hand…he smiled a small secret smile.

It might not be what he had seen in the mirror of Erised, but it was close enough.

One day, maybe, just maybe, one day he could get to see his greatest desire brought to life.

The rest of the visit passed with a easement that the months had wrought.

--------0

“Must we really go?” Harry asked, as Corvus informed Harry to go and get dressed, that is change of clothes was in his study, to save him walking up the stairs. Normally after a visit to the island he could allow Harry to rest for a short while. The cold, damp, and the presence of the dementors for even an hour does affect him even if they weren’t close. They needed warmth, comfort and chocolate to recover and sometimes Harry needed to sleep.

“We made an obligation to go by agreeing, we cannot renegade on the meeting this close to its time,” Corvus chided quietly. “Especially not to someone who could take offence to it, I apologise you aren’t getting to open your gifts,”

Harry snorted, “Yeah, you’re right…Draco wouldn’t let me hear the end of it,” ruefully shaking his head, his friend was a weird one. The others were just as weird for pandering to him all the time, it’s as if Draco had never heard the word no in his life. “I don’t mind waiting to open the gifts,”

“I think there is a story in there somewhere,” Corvus said, sounding amused, “But we will be having a talk when we return from Malfoy Manor after lunch.” Then gifts. Their schedule today had been quite…hectic and turnabout really. They’d had dinner for breakfast in Azkaban so that Rodolphus and Rabastan could have something substantial to eat. Having made it the night before and reserved with warming charms so that it lasted. Now they were off to have luncheon with the Malfoy’s which was always a grandiose affair.

“Are you upset?” Harry asked, looking up at him, he still hadn’t got a good read on the situation, so he was still quite unsure about what all the fuss was regarding.

“Upset?” Corvus murmured genuinely surprised to hear that Harry could think that, “No, Harry I am…amazed, astonished really at what you’ve accomplished and how you’ve accomplished it despite the fact you’ve only been here a few months. It shows that you are going to do well in whatever career you set your mind to. I am proud of you and I cannot wait to see what you do in the years to come, you are positively flourishing and I am proud to be helping you accomplish that.” He’d been in the magical world from the moment of his birth and even he hadn’t thought of the things Harry had, it was as if an outsiders perspective enabled Harry to think outside the box, in a way that people like him, could not.

His genius would have been wasted with Dumbledore and subdued to the point of no return. Whatever plans Dumbledore had with Harry could only be a bad thing which would result in his death…anything to do with the Dark Lord would have. That could be the only reason Dumbledore wanted Harry.

It made him shudder at such a waste of talent. Nothing in his life had made him more grateful than the contract he had made up with Dorea in a fit of nostalgia and the hopes of their families – whoever they may be – would wish to join the families together. To think he’d been happy with Bellatrix, what a blind fool he’d been. Harry however, would have been perfect.

He was wrapping his family around his finger, without even trying which was mesmerising to watch. Rodolphus didn’t take well to new people, often suspicious of their motives. Perhaps knowing what Harry had wanted upfront had Rodolphus warming up so quickly? Or helping his brother would do it. Rodolphus had always been protective of his brother, and had actually said he’d have taken all the blame for that night and made sure Rabastan got free…unfortunately their sham of a trial had prevented that, and Bellatrix big mouth did the rest in condemning them.

“Oh,” the last of Harry’s confusion waned, pride and happiness bursting forth. “Anyone could have done it,” he shrugged, truly believing that and not just being demure because of the praise. He would never be modest when receiving praise, especially if he believed it well earned.

“Can I ask which book you found the information for the Patronus charm?” Corvus asked, eyebrows raised high at the ‘anyone could have done it’ didn’t the boy realize exactly how difficult a feat of magic he had accomplished and entirely on his own? Even he had needed months to perform that spell, and Harry had done it in what…a week? Two weeks? Three? Either way it was definitely an accomplishment he wished to shout from the rooftops at how good he was.

“Oh, um, it was one of the charms books, I think it was the Auror grade 4 book, I thought it was the school version but some of those spells are really hard, I didn’t read the book…I think I’ll start with book one and see what that’s like.”

Corvus choked, he found some of the Auror grade 4 spells hard but the Patronus spell was easy was it? worse still, that Auror grade four book only gives a description of the spell and the spell itself, by that point the reader should already be well aware how difficult the spell was and it didn’t go into detail. Harry truly had no idea just how difficult it was to cast that spell. “Those spells are for Aurors, someone seventeen and upwards, twenty to twenty-one for the grade four book and those are seasoned Aurors ready to become fully fledged senior trained Aurors.”

“Oh, well no wonder they were difficult,” Harry commented, before wandering off to Corvus’ office to change.

Corvus remained standing there, staring at the space Harry had just recently vacated. Barely refraining from gawping like a complete and utter idiot. Why did he continue to be surprised by anything Harry did? Shaking his head, utterly bemused, the boy was something else that was for certain.

“Why?” Harry asked, stepping out of the room looking betrayed dressed to the nines in resplendent robes.

“Is there something the matter?” Corvus asked, lips twitching, his thoughts immediately receding as he focused on here and now, Harry was as always dressed lovely, he’d made sure of that…but he hadn’t worn a full wizarding robe that fitted as it was meant to. Like now.

“I can barely breathe,” Harry stated calmly, lips pursed eyeing his attire with immolation.

“Is it that bad?” Corvus asked, his amusement turning to concern, stepping forward, hmm, it was a little on the tight side. “I only ordered this a fortnight ago, you’re gaining weight at an astonishing rate, we will need to buy you a new wardrobe soon.”

“Can’t we use magic to let everything out a bit, again?” Harry asked, the thought of getting more clothes didn’t sit well with him. Especially with them being tailor made to fit and well…expensive to boot.

“They’ve been altered already once, and the material won’t stretch again,” Corvus explained, “Considering how quickly you’re gaining that much needed weight, the next alter might need to be a little longer,” especially if it happened while he was at school. Even an inch would give him more breathing room until more could be made. It wont need to be done too often, since Harry would soon be a healthy weight and probably wouldn’t put much more on. It just depended on what Millicent said actually. “Now let’s go, we don’t want to be late…Lucius won’t let me hear the end of it,” it would be nice to have an informal visit with Lucius again, it had been too long. He’d refused all invites after his sons’ incarcerations.

“Oh,” Harry said quietly, “Never mind then,”

“Is it truly uncomfortable?” Corvus asked, eyeing the attire with a critical eye. He wasn’t exactly spilling out of the seams. He looked more uncomfortable due to the fact he wasn’t used to such restrictive clothing and having clothes that actually fit instead of the rags the Dursley’s had forced him to wear. Going from one extent to the other can be disconcerting given everything else he had gone through.

Harry paused, “No, not really, it’s just…very uncomfortable…how do you put up with it?” it was very constricting.

“I am used to wizarding wear, you however, have only ever had Muggle clothing that was ten times to big for you, it will take a while for you to become accustomed to being properly attired in fitting clothes.” Corvus informed him, trying to see it from Harry’s point of view, “Personally I think you look your best, which is exactly what we need while visiting the Malfoy’s.”

“How much family does Narcissa have? Draco spoke about it like she had a massive family and lost them all?” Harry asked absently, “I didn’t ask him to clarify, although I know I’m very distantly related to her…” wandering back into the office and emerging with the gifts he’d forgotten.

“You wish to know more about the Black’s?” Corvus said, deducing what Harry was actually asking for. “That isn’t an easy family to keep up with,” he pursed his lips, “Their penchant for…inner marrying is rather…disgusting.” He didn’t approve of it, despite the fact he had been friends with Orion and Walburga back in the day.

“Oh, yeah, Sirius’ parents were cousins, I noticed that in the file,” Harry nodded, “Ready to go?”

“Almost, just give me a minute,” Corvus murmured, re-entering his office, keeping the door open, “Narcissa is the youngest daughter of Cygnus and Druella Black her sisters are Bellatrix and Andromeda, I, however, should warn you that, Narcissa and Lucius…believe in the importance of blood purity. She even disavowed her sister who married a Muggle-born wizard, and had a half-blood child Nymphadora Tonks, who has I believe just left Hogwarts and gone one to try for the Auror corps. She normally dislikes those who display a tolerance for those of lesser blood.”

“Then why am I going?” Harry asked baffled by the invite.

“Because of my importance and because I am family,” Corvus explained, “Narcissa’s parents, aunts and uncles and cousins all died very young. There are only a few left of the Blacks, Sirius and Bellatrix are in Azkaban and of course she and her sister never speak, I think by this point even if she tried to reach out to Andromeda nothing would come of it. With age comes wisdom, I believe she regrets her harsh words to her sister somewhat.”

“You really don’t like Bellatrix do you?” Harry commented, Corvus had that tone of voice that thinly veiled contempt that was only came level with his feelings for Dumbledore.

“No, I do not, now let us go and get this over with,” Corvus stated, “And do not worry over her possible reactions, I shall ensure she behaves as fitting of Lady of the Manor.” In other words subtly threaten her with anything he could bring to bear should she upset Harry or him.

 

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A/N – so will Harry arrange to have Bellatrix killed in prison? Say by getting a snake to do the deed? If so would you like any of them to realize what he did or will it remain Harry's little secret? Will he write off all the Black's including Narcissa or will she behave herself due to the fact Draco genuinely likes him? cold at first then cooling a little? Can you think of gifts for rich folk like the Malfoys that's wizardish in nature? And something Corvus can get Harry that's not books? I always hate this part of writing stories! LOL or I suppose I could just smooth over that and have the next chapter starting with them back at Lestrange manor opening the gifts…will Dumbledore have given Harry his invisibility cloak? OR will it be something different of his parents in order to entice him? oh and the trial…what will happen to Dumbledore? Monetary means of apology or will we see Dumbledore suffering bigger ways? Prison time? Just sacked from his job or just driven from the castle for so many months? AND despite how it looks, Harry's not going to be an over powered wizard, he just doesn't know his own limitations and between the mirror and his new circumstances he's happy enough to actually cast a patronus! :)

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 21

“This place…is beautiful,” Harry said, his eyes roaming around Malfoy land, having just used a portkey to get there. Perking up at the sight of the animals, his attention torn from the beautifully kept bushes that were in dozens of different shapes, or rather animals. The landscape was beautiful, whoever had done this garden had done a wonderful job. “Are those…peacocks?” he asked, narrowing his eyes trying to see the strutting animals better. Their tails spread out as they pranced around.

“They are indeed,” Corvus replied, “Do you wish to see them properly?” Harry’s eyesight hadn’t been corrected of course, due to his potion regimen. The potion for his eyesight would have to wait until at least the end of the year, the summer holidays.

“We can’t be late…” Harry said, actually looking longingly at the direction of the animals. He wasn’t looking forward to this at all, mostly due to what Corvus had said, he liked Draco, he really did, and he loved his parents and probably didn’t see their faults, faults being his blood status. It would be a challenge, to remain silent or polite if she started…but considering his career desires perhaps it would help him exercise those thoughts and make him better for when he became a lawyer.

“Perhaps Draco will take you on a short trip around the grounds to see them?” Corvus suggested, beginning to guide Harry in the direction of the large double doors that was the front door of Malfoy Manor. Making a mental note to make that suggestion, “How is your sight? Do you need a different prescription?” making sure that Harry could at least read and see adequately for the time being. He hadn’t thought to ask, since he was used to seeing Harry with his glasses on.

“I can see fine, it’s just that they’re so far away,” Harry admitted, they were a bit blurry to him, but most things were that far away. “I just can’t wait until the summer holidays…although, I might need to wait a fortnight into the holidays before I can get the potion since my routine was disrupted.”

“Very well,” Corvus murmured in agreement, absently brushing his hand through Harry’s soft fine hair in a fond caress. He’d always found Yule one of his most depressing days, remaining in the manor, depressed and secluded. By his own choice, refusing the Malfoy’s invites grieving for what he’d lost. Such a dire contrast it was today, and he was so grateful to this young boy for it.

Harry glanced up and graced Corvus with a bright smile, Corvus wasn’t the only one who was having a vastly different Yule for the first time in a decade. When he’d first saw Corvus, he had to admit he was a little intimidated. He was very tall, exuded confidence and was entirely too emotionless – something he’d learned was normal for most purebloods – but he knew better now, even at that, he’d been desperate, too desperate to back out and walk away. He owed the goblins and the Lestrange’s everything.

“Ready?” Corvus asked the boy, probably more aware of Harry’s apprehension than the boy realized. He was able to read the child very well by now, despite his time away at Hogwarts, Corvus had spent enough time in his company to know all his tells. Mostly because he had seen him at his best and worst – thus far – before he was able to mask his feelings, it had been one of the things he’d taught him. Not to let anyone read you like a book, never allow anyone see your true emotions and use them to manipulate you. Such as Dumbledore, who he was absolutely furious with, but the day of his trial was looming steadily closer and he couldn’t wait.

Stiffening his shoulders, he nodded curtly, “Yes,” he said without any hint of worry.

“Do try not to alienate them,” Corvus chided as they begun to approach the front of the building. “I will keep them in hand, it isn’t your job to do so, not today,” today he was here to have fun and see Draco, who he hadn’t seen since he was pulled out before the Yule holidays. Plus, Draco might take it as a slight to him, and it might make his time when he returned to Hogwarts a little more difficult.

“I won’t,” Harry reassured Corvus, at least he hoped not.

“Master Lestrange, Mister Potter, the Master and Lady are expecting you,” a squeaky voice insisted, bowing low in greeting, so much so that his nose touched the floor. Green eyes while staring at the floor paid a great deal of attention to Harry it was obviously floored to have ‘The Harry Potter’ on the doorstep to Malfoy Manor.

“What happened to your hand?” Harry asked the House-elf causing it to cast and clasp his hand over his mouth. Tears beginning to brew within those green depths.

“Nothing, Harry Potter, Sir, as punishment Dobby ironed his hands,” Dobby confessed, belatedly realizing he probably shouldn’t have said that, but he was just too in awe, this was Harry Potter! The Harry Potter! The Boy-Who-Lived! He was responsible for ending the war and the suffering of most of his kind. Except for him of course.

“They made you iron your hands?” Harry asked, gaping at the House-Elf, stomach trembling at the sheer disgust rolling through him.

Corvus closed his eyes, rubbing his temple in silent agitation, this probably wouldn’t go over well with Harry at all. Well, there went their simple Yule lunch, Harry was going to be intolerable. Feeling a brush of Harry’s magic, his eyes opened zoning in on the boy. Who looked really angry, but Dobby was flexing his hands with a look of awe on his face. Accidental magic, he’d healed the House-elves hands, stubborn boy, thank Merlin they were here and not outside where he could have received a warning for it. Not that he would let that stand of course, but still.

Dobby removed the soiled bandages from his fingers, staring at Harry was if he was the second coming of Merlin. Gasping a bit when he heard his Master’s impatience, he reapplied the bandages, before saying, “May I take your cloaks Master Lestrange, Mister Potter?”

“No thank you, we’re both fine,” Harry answered before Corvus could even think of answering, which was extremely rude and Corvus cleared his throat deeply unimpressed, giving Harry a pointed look in the process. He was not about to let Harry begin being rude, not for anything and especially not with him it would begin a precedence he did not want set. “Sorry,” he murmured, realizing he’d gone too far, but any sort of abuse raised his metaphorical hackles so to speak. His opinion on the Malfoy’s was at an all time low.

“Do not let it happen again,” Corvus chided, without any bite whatsoever, ignoring the look the House-elf sent him. “Lead the way,” he added to the House-Elf, he was sure he’d heard was called Dobby, but it had been a long time, perhaps it was a different one. They all looked the same to him, and he never cared to remember their names. Well, with the obvious exception of his own.

“Yes sir!” Dobby squeaked out, “Follow me!” with that Dobby led them surprisingly not to the large grand dining room they always used but through one of the sitting rooms and out into the veranda. Which housed a beautiful view of the peacocks.

“Lucius, Narcissa, thank you for your gracious invite,” Corvus said, giving thanks to his hosts, removing the gifts from his cloak pocket and placing them in the middle of the table.

“We’re glad you could make it,” Lucius said smoothly, giving Corvus a long curious glance.

Harry stood beside Corvus eyeing them with a practiced blank look on his face. Draco looked much like his father, minus the really long hair. He stood tall and regal, and he was dressed in the finest clothes and Harry was suddenly very glad that he’d been forced – well not forced exactly – into wearing these uncomfortable stuffy clothes. If he hadn’t he knew he’d feel self-conscious. Narcissa might have delicate features and had a demure look about her, but Harry got the sense that she was a powerful witch that would do just about anything for family. Even welcome into her home a half-blood which she clearly had problems with. They were very pretty and would look even nicer if they actually smiled. Instead they looked as if they had bit on a very sour lemon. Well, not really, they were just impassive, like them.

“Lucius, Narcissa I’d like to introduce you to my ward, Harry Potter, Harry, this is Lucius and Narcissa, very close friends and family.” Corvus introduced them, whether they knew each other or not, it was improper not to introduce them especially since they hadn’t met before.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Lord and Lady Malfoy,” Harry said, soft spoken and polite, none of his potential real feelings on display.

“I assure you, the pleasure is all ours,” Lucius said, practically purring as he stared at Harry.

Harry stood a step back, fingers twitching just itching to bring his wand into the palm of his hand, feeling not only very uncomfortable but the way he had spoken was too…weird, it made him feel skittish. He was paying way too much attention to him and it was wrong. A shudder crawled up Harry’s spine, it was almost as if he was doing it on purpose.

Then suddenly Lucius took a step back, looking far too pale, Harry just knew if he looked up he’d find Corvus staring at Lucius with a look on his face that warned people of nasty consequences for upsetting him or anyone he cared about. A hand dropped onto his shoulder, giving him the reassurance that nothing would happen, which eased Harry enough that he took a step forward again, so he was right next to Corvus. The feeling in his stomach disappeared, and Harry relaxed, fully trusting that Corvus would always have his back.

“I hope you’re having a good Yule,” Harry offered up, breaking the ice.

“Indeed,” Narcissa said, finally speaking for the first time. “You look like Dorea,” she informed him, despite the fact she was staring down her nose at him.

Despite the appearance of the Potter look, when one looked deeper you could indeed see the Black features showing through, they were just less obvious.

Harry smiled a genuine smile, “Thank you,” he didn’t even have to take her word for it. He had pictures of his grandparents actually, or rather grandmother with a few with Charles Potter in the frame. Corvus had given them to him, he was in them too. Corvus had been good friends with Dorea, who had been in the same house as him. unfortunately, Corvus didn’t have any of his parents, which was understandable, they were on different sides in the war. “She was very beautiful,” which she definitely had been, he didn’t need to wonder what had attracted his grandfather Charles to her.

“She was strong, beautiful and talented,” Narcissa agreed with him on that, “Please sit, Draco will be joining us shortly,” the table was already filled with a mouth-watering amount of food, and Harry scarcely could believe that this was just for five people, this was enough to feed an army. Given what he had just consumed, he didn’t think he’d be able to eat much, but surely they would already know this?

So many side dishes mostly vegetables but the main spectacle was definitely the confits wild boar sat in the middle of the table. Chestnut and mascarpone cheesecake sat with the rest of the various desserts on the dessert trolley set up at the side.

“Did Dorea ever have a portrait made?” Harry asked, to Narcissa’s surprise judging by look on her face.

“I believe so, all Lord and Ladies tend to leave a little of themselves behind,” Narcissa educated primly, “Lucius and I will follow that same tradition,”

“Dorea’s portrait is most likely in Potter manor, if its still standing,” Corvus added, as always giving Harry the information he sought.

“If?” Harry questioned, why wouldn’t it be?

Lucius watched Corvus and Harry intently, as if nothing else had ever fascinated him quite so much before. He was as intent as his wife was dispassionate.

“Your parents chose to go into hiding using a cottage, in Godric’s Hollow, despite the numerous homes open to them, with far greater wards to protect them than a simple Fidelius charm.” Corvus as always told the blunt uncensored truth. “To not use your ancestral home, well, one might come to the conclusion it was no longer liveable or a viable solution.” He knew where the place stood, he had gone over Harry’s estate after all, and continued to do so, with the boy present so he could get accustomed to it.

“Will the wards be open to me before I turn seventeen?” Harry asked curiously, if Dorea was a portrait…he’d get to talk to her. Perhaps even his parents had done the same thing too? Although, they were a bit too young and maybe hadn’t done it? With the war though…you’d think it would be one of the first things they do. Plus, he did want to see Potter Manor and see what it was like.

“Fourteen, but should you desire to see it, I can take you,” Corvus explained, he would love to have a chat with Dorea again. She always had been such a fierce fiery spitfire, he missed her, she’d died way too young, like the rest of the Blacks. The interbreeding had done a number on them, almost wiped the main line out, and it would end with Sirius Black actually. Harry, while he could gain the Black estate wasn’t from the main line, and he wouldn’t change his name from Potter to Black and thus the Black name would die out, unless he gave it to one of his children in future and gifted him upon his birth with the Black name making him the sole heir of the Black fortune upon turning seventeen. No heir would do such a thing at least not until they had two Male heirs, so there would be no chance of the main Potter line dying out. It was very doubtful that Harry would end up having three male heirs. The thought was disheartening really, he would do anything to make Harry truly family, and he wasn’t sure why he felt this way, nostalgia? Old age?

“Maybe during the summer holidays?” Harry suggested, that way they could take their time without any restraints on their time and hopefully with his full bill of health to be celebrated?

“Of course,” Corvus said agreeably, if they had the time, Harry’s gift - from him to Harry - might make it difficult. He was sure they could spare a day or so to visit the manor. By rights, Harry could visit wherever, whenever he wanted.

“Sorry I’m late!” Draco skidded into the room, somehow making it look purposeful and graceful at the same time.

“Draco!” Harry said, grinning widely, a genuine happy look on his face. “Are you enjoying the holidays?”

“Lord Lestrange,” Draco said, giving the elder Lestrange his full attention for the moment.

“You have grown a great deal since I saw you last Draco,” Corvus commented, he was his father and grandfathers double. “Abraxas would be proud.”

Draco couldn’t help but smile proudly, puffing up a little, “Thank you, Sir!” his father revered his grandfather, spoke of him often and constantly with love and heartache that he was gone. Dragon Pox, before he was born, but the portrait – which was only a ghost of their former self really, not the real person – had helped his dad while he grieved.

“It’s Corvus,” Corvus said, “After lunch would you be willing to show Harry around the grounds while I speak to your parents?”

“I’d be happy to,” Draco said respectfully, as he sat in his allotted seat next to Harry, and they all began to put food on their plates as they made small tack. “Are you okay? You left Hogwarts…I didn’t see you on the train?”

“You’ll only need one guess as to why,” Harry explained quietly, talking low so he didn’t interrupt Corvus and the Malfoy’s talking.

“Dumbledore,” Draco scowled. “I keep telling you, you should get some sort of restraining order on the old fool,” it would serve him right. Talking louder due to his annoyance which was always prominent when Dumbledore was mentioned.

“Has Dumbledore been giving you grief?” Lucius zeroed in on the conversation, eyes gleaming just looking for an excuse to go after Dumbledore. He didn’t care that it was Harry Potter, but if he could use him to further his agenda when it came to Dumbledore he would do it.

“Yes,” Harry answered, as he tucked into his small plate of food, making sure to use the correct utensils and place the napkin in his lap.

“May I ask what he’s doing?” Lucius asked, he loathed the old fool and how much he got away with, just because he had managed to stop Grindelwald, and the way he had treated his Lord, not that he’d been there for that, no, Abraxas had told him all about it. Noticing that he hadn’t very much on his plate, something he’d bring up with Corvus later.

“That information will come available during Dumbledore’s trial,” Corvus said easily, “There is no need to rehash the information and spoil our Yule.”

“Oh? Who are you using to question him?” Lucius asked, getting into conversation with Corvus and momentarily forgetting to question Harry further. Making a mental note to definitely attend the trial despite any other uses’ of his time. He’d been thinking of attending, but not 100% sure, due to the fact he knew the old fool would get out of it, he always did. It’s like he had liquid luck running through his veins instead of blood, he could always come out smelling like roses.

“But what did he do? Did he hurt you?” Draco whispered, concerned for his friend. “I mean it must have been bad if you left Hogwarts…and Professor Flitwick…he was furious with Dumbledore we all saw it.”

“He compelled me to wander Hogwarts, to find something,” Harry explained, wincing in remembrance. “It was a mirror, it’s not really important, but I wasn’t in good shape after…I guess I know what would happen if I didn’t take my potions.”

Draco gaped aghast, “How long?” he asked an indignant look on his face.

Narcissa gracefully ate her lunch, having continuously been looking down her nose at Harry the entire time. Yet, seeing her son so happy to see him gave her pause. She didn’t think she’d seen him quite so excited when he learned they were coming, not even when he was informed his other friends were coming, his best friends, people he’d known his entire life. What was it about the boy that Draco seemed to like? It was definitely not because of his status and fame. She’d only invited him because Corvus was always invited at this time of year, and she couldn’t not invite him, she would never do anything to antagonise Corvus.

“Do you not like the food, Mr. Potter?” Narcissa finally asked as they finally finished their main course, the boar had been cooked to perfection. The plates were promptly banished food and all, before dessert plates were put in front of everyone

“The food is amazing Mrs. Malfoy, my compliments to your House-elves, who no doubt slaved away for hours to make sure you enjoyed your Yule without spoiling anything.” Harry said simply, his lips twitching at the dramatic groan he heard from Corvus.

“Dessert looks lovely!” Corvus said, glancing over the dessert tray, looking for something that Harry was allowed to eat. He’d already had Yule log, which did go against his dietary restrictions, but it had only been a small piece. Finding the apple pie, he cut a small slice for Harry and some cream before setting it in front of the boy.

“Thank you,” Harry said, distracted by more food, he wasn’t sure if he could eat any more to be truthful.

“That’s nice it has cinnamon in it,” Draco reassured him, not at all surprised to see only a small measure of food on Harry’s place. He ate less at Hogwarts, but more often though, eight times a day maybe? Some of the times it was just snacks as Harry got more used to eating and his stomach got bigger. To stop himself being sick, Harry had explained it all to him back in September. Repeating everything Millicent had told him.

“How many different kinds of animals are here?” Harry asked, wondering if they were anything like home.

“Only two, horses and Peacocks,” Draco explained, his father was too busy to deal with animals and his mother detested all but horses. “I got a new broomstick! It’s not even out on the market yet! The Nimbus 2001! It’s not due out for another six months!” all but jumping up and down on his seat.

“Oh? Do you plan to just ride or do you plan on trying out next year?” Harry asked, not exactly overwhelmed by Draco’s declaration, neither jealous or judgemental. Money opened a lot of doors, especially for items that weren’t on the market yet.

“It’s a Nimbus 2001!” Draco said, almost pouting at how Harry was NOT reacting at the news. “The Nimbus 2000 has only been out eight months!”

“You can show me it after lunch,” Harry said, “But are you planning on trying out for the Quidditch team? I assume it’s a trial yeah?” as far as he recalled the Seeker of the Slytherin Quidditch team was due to leave this year, and having someone trained to take his place was a good idea, he’d bring it up with Marcus. Scooping up a piece of food and chewing slowly and carefully, he was beginning to feel a little too sick.

“Yes, I’ll be playing for the Slytherin Quidditch team,” Draco said smugly, “Dad is going to buy everyone broomsticks,”

Harry blinked, “You do know how that looks, right?” Harry pointed out, “It will look as though you’ve just bought your way onto the team. You’re a real graceful flier Draco, no matter what broom you’re on.” idly wondering if that is exactly what Draco wanted.

Draco shrugged, he honestly didn’t care, but that little nagging voice at the back of his head…stirred.

“You going to finish that?” Draco asked Harry, tapping his foot impatiently, he wanted to show off his proudest possession.

Harry frowned, “Do you want it?” he questioned, baffled as to why he’d want his little bit leftover food when there was still loads left on the cart.

“No, I just want to know if you’re finished,” Draco explained, ignoring the boring growing up conversation going on next to him.

“Oh, sure, yeah, come on then,” Harry said, wiping his mouth and placing the napkin on the plate, distracted by Corvus’ sudden speech but nonetheless warmed by it.

“Just make sure not to go too fast, Draco, Harry is still recovering from Dumbledore’s latest stunt,” Corvus ordered, “He remains on the ground floor, and if he needs to stop, he stops.” This he stated to Harry despite talking to Draco, who he knew could overwhelm everyone around him. Although from all Harry has said to him regarding the boy, Harry didn’t allow Draco away with even a quarter of the things his other friends did. It would be good for their friendship. Especially as Draco grew older, having someone who was unfailingly honest, yes, he believed given time they’d end up best of friends. Which was just a shame for Narcissa, who had barely spoken a word, and he had not failed to notice her looking down his nose at the child. Still, this was Draco’s house, he might be tempted to be a little overbearing, having a warning from him would hopefully stop any attempts he may make.

“I won’t,” Draco promised, he could still remember seeing Harry for the first time at Hogwarts, how thin and gaunt he was, and how little he ate while sitting with the Slytherins. He was still not eating as much as everyone else either, but he was getting better. Plus, he still walked slower than the others, always left for class earlier to get there, and avoided crowds too.

After that Harry and Draco left, leaving Narcissa, Lucius and Corvus on their own.

“He doesn’t have much of an appetite does he?” Lucius asked, “He barely ate anything on his plate,” which under different circumstances would have been considered rude.

“He ate quite a lot just a few hours ago,” Corvus explained, for Harry it was a lot, “He eats eight times a day, smaller amounts, Millicent’s recommendation. He even eats that while at Hogwarts, Filius has ensured that, truthfully he shouldn’t be eating that much sugar but since it’s Yule I’ve let him have a more leeway than he should have.”

“How are Rodolphus and Rabastan?” Lucius asked, he had been good friends with Rodolphus, although, the core group had been Rabastan, Rodolphus, Barty and Bellatrix after graduating Hogwarts for both Lestrange’s. however, Rodolphus was ages with him, so it had been just them and a few others until Rabastan came into the picture in the later years. It didn’t mean he hadn’t stayed friends with him, it just meant they had become a little distant after Hogwarts.

“You can discuss them while Harry is here, you realize?” Corvus stated as he crossed his legs, and accepted the cup of coffee that handed to him. “They’re both putting on much needed weight, and the visits are making them more cognizant, it’s a relief to see, normally when I got to visit them in the past, I spend most of the time repeating myself.”

“Are either near Bellatrix?” Narcissa asked, concern written across her face. “Do they know how she is?”

“If she’s in the same state the boys were in when I first saw them…it doesn’t look good,” Corvus revealed steadily, with a hint, just a hint of sympathy in his voice. Not for Bellatrix, no, but for Narcissa, she seemed to have been the only one, perhaps other than Regulus who managed to come out the gene pool unscathed. He could only imagine just how bad Bellatrix was now after a decade in Azkaban prison. Even if they were released – which he didn’t see happening – but still, Bellatrix would end up straight in St. Mungo’s. She couldn’t possibly be fit to step out in society, she’d just end up right back in the prison. He would absolutely refuse to allow his sons to go down for her again.

“If only there was a way to get her out of there,” Narcissa said, with a wistful air around her, it had the potential to happen, the Dark Mark, Lucius reckons was a little darker but it may well be wishful thinking on his behalf, Narcissa honestly didn’t see any difference in the mark. If the Dark Lord returned, he would definitely help get the others stuck in Azkaban out. No doubt it would be one of his first acts, they’d gone to prison for him.

“You’d trust her around Draco?” Corvus asked, not bothering to hide his incredulity.

Narcissa opened her mouth to reply, but she was beaten to it, “Not unsupervised,” Lucius declared curtly, and no second chances either. He didn’t care how his wife felt, this was something he would not shift on, and Narcissa knew he wouldn’t. The safety of their son came before all else, even the Dark Lord, on that they both agreed on. He would have the last say, as if he would trust Bellatrix with his son! She’d never even held Draco, he hadn’t allowed his vulnerable baby to go anywhere near her arms. She was in plenty of pictures with him up until her imprisonment but none of a doting aunt cuddling her nephew close.

“Agreed,” Corvus replied, he certainly would leave Bellatrix alone with Harry, even if he wasn’t actually Harry Potter but another eleven-year-old boy.

“Draco hasn’t stopped mentioning the boy since Hogwarts started up,” Narcissa admitted, staring out at the manor grounds, where Draco and Harry stood, Draco was talking animatedly, gesturing wildly, and Harry laughed, both of them sniggering with whatever had tickled their fancy as he observed the peacock.

“That boy has a name,” Corvus subtly warned her.

“He’s a half-blood, Corvus, Dorea would be rolling in her grave,” Narcissa stated, hating the fact that Harry could make her son laugh so freely. How many years had it been since she heard Draco laugh like that? She didn’t hate him, in fact, she just disliked his blood status.

“Would you be willing to say that again in the presence of our Lord?” Corvus whispered threateningly, like him they were aware of the Dark Lord’s true blood status, Lucius had figured it out after receiving the Dark Lord’s personal diary, seeing them both flinch satisfied the blood boiling within him. “We both have accepted Half-blood’s into our families, some closer than others, and we all know why.” Some wizards and witches weren’t stupid, unlike the Black’s and Gaunt’s who had married their own cousins and had children who were not quite all right in the head. They’d realized quite quickly what the problem was.

Narcissa fought to stop herself screwing her face up in distaste, there was no ‘we’ the Black’s had kept their family lines pure.

“I mean look what having a Half-Blood or a Muggle-born has done for this generation?” Corvus pointed out, sipping his coffee, “Brought back the Metamorphamagus gift known only to the Black line, like it or not Harry Potter is magically gifted, and can speak Parseltongue,”

Lucius stiffened, “What?” he croaked out, eyes agog.

“He’s related to Salazar Slytherin from both sides of his family, Lucius, and the proof is in the blood. Lily and James Potter were related to Salazar Slytherin, and get this…he’s related to the Dark Lord through the Gaunt line,” which naturally makes its way to the Slytherin line inevitably too from the Peverell line of all things.

“That is good to know,” came the hissing voice, the sibilant sound of a voice they all knew too well.

“My Lord?” the three echoed in unison shock running through them all.

 

----------0

*Cackles* I hope you enjoyed the chapter ;) so will Voldemort have abandoned Quirrell to seek aid from the Malfoy's to get himself better? OR is Quirrell with him? Will Harry be aware of Voldemort's presence? Or will the younger generation remain ignorant of his appearance? or has he already performed it and wish to seek out his most trusted? what of Severus? will he be aware of the Dark Lord's return or will he too remain ignorant for the years to come? Will Voldemort let Corvus and Harry handle the Lestrange's appeal? OR will they get broken out of Azkaban before they can become free men? R&R please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 22

Corvus stared at Quirinus Quirrell, the current Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry’s teacher, one of the ones who had helped him, which made him less apprehensive regarding his…intentions but it didn’t ease him completely. He wondered just how long the Dark Lord had been possessing the teacher, and more importantly why and where their paths had crossed. His mind mulled over everything he knew, and all that Harry had revealed overtime. More specifically, the burning in his scar, the locations, was it possible that the Dark Lord was actually unwittingly responsible? And it wasn’t someone attempting to read his mind through the charms he had on his person in order to protect him?

The wizard in question stepped gracefully into the room, lips twitching at the surprise and shock that permeated the air, he always loved this. How conversations could cease completely upon their realisation that he was there with them. Also loved lurking and hearing what they had to say, and he was pleased that his old friend was using him to prove his point, he usually always had Corvus’ back for anything just like Corvus in turn had his…until that night.

“You’ve been back in Britain since at least September, why did you not come to us for aid until now?” Corvus asked, perplexed as to why the Dark Lord would keep himself hidden. Or why he would show up at Hogwarts at all. Or come to Malfoy Manor, surely he would have come to one of the old crowd first?

Lucius and Narcissa froze in mid bow showing their deference for their lord, at Corvus speaking so casually to the Dark Lord. Also, what he was actually saying, four months at least, he’d been steadily getting better? They’d known he wasn’t dead, due to the Dark Mark, which would have vanished entirely if the Dark Lord’s life force had ceased to exist completely. Lucius had been sure it was getting darker, perhaps it had been. Lucius swiftly pressed down on the desire to clutch his mark as if expecting it to suddenly flare up.

“And how is it that you’ve come by this information, Corvus?” the Dark Lord enquired, more amused than anything, which caused Narcissa and Lucius to fear the worst. When the Dark Lord was amused, everyone else suffered, greatly. The Dark Lord swiftly sat claiming a seat for himself, not waiting to be invited, as though he was the true owner of this property. There was a demanding lilt to his voice, not liking that Corvus knew this much. Quirinus’ eyes flashed from brown to deep red, the colour the Dark Lord’s eyes had gone soon after leaving Hogwarts. After making the Horcruxes.

Swallowing thickly the parents glanced desperately outside of the manor, where their son was. They prayed to every deity they didn’t believe in that their son would remain outside. Well away from this room, they didn’t want to see what the Dark Lord would do should Draco speak out of turn. They hadn’t coached him on anything when it came to the Dark Lord yet, he was still too young for any of that.

“You’ve definitely been in Hogwarts since September the first,” Corvus mused thoughtfully, making sure to moderate his tone, as he always did, he was one of the few who got away with disrespect, but he wasn’t daft enough to deliberately antagonise the Dark Lord to the extent that he would torture him. Especially considering he didn’t know the Dark Lord’s mood, how could he considering he was possessing the Defence professor?

“You knew where I was yet you didn’t look for me, Corvus?” Voldemort asked through Quirrell’s voice, using his own sibilant one wasn’t easily done when he was actually fully possessing Quirrell and not just on the back of his head. The second they’d left Hogwarts he’d taken over the wizard, without the wards to alert anyone that possession was happening he was safe to do so. Actually possessing him instead of sitting on the back of his head like some sort of parasite.

Corvus could hear the hurt underlaying Voldemort’s question, even if it was difficult to pick up with Quirrell’s voice. Before he had lost all reason and descended to utter madness he had cared about all of them in his own way, would protect and save them if he had to. Not above his own life, of course, but he’d still save them. He hadn’t been all bad, and yes, torture does sound bad, but a potion later the pain from the curse ceases altogether. He’d even stopped confiding in him, and that spoke volumes to the depth of the Dark Lord’s paranoia, Merlin he’d missed him a great deal, the wizard he used to be. Considering how calmly he was being…perhaps there was hope yet? “I did look for you, both Lucius and I did each time a whisper of a rumour reached us of your whereabouts,” Corvus revealed, only lying about Lucius helping, because the wizard had definitely not. He was however, throwing the wizard a bone for how good he’d been to him over the years.

“Yet you knew I was at Hogwarts and did nothing?” Voldemort demanded to know, why hadn’t they come to him? Those who had sworn eternal loyalty? He did feel a little better that at least a few of his followers had looked for him, he shouldn’t have doubted Corvus, he really shouldn’t have.

“I’ve only just now figured it out,” Corvus calmly informed him, watching intently, it was so odd to see his old friend speaking to him through a voice and face he hadn’t interacted with before other than knowing he was a professor at Hogwarts. “Am I to assume that Snape is in the know?” not sure why, but it galled him that Tom would go to the aid of someone’s who’s loyalty’s weren’t truly known instead of him.

“And how is it that you just ‘figured it out’,” Voldemort questioned, standing up, he took in the view of Malfoy manor. The first time he’d been here with Abraxas, who he missed, not designing to answer the question about Snape, despite the stench of mis-placed jealousy hanging in the air. He knew his old friend well, he knew how he was feeling.

Lucius and Narcissa tensed seeing Voldemort in the line of sight on their son, their hearts pounding erratically. Corvus, however, remained calm he was always better able to read the Dark Lord than Lucius, as smart and able as he was. Lucius allowed his emotions to cloud his judgement, especially when it came to family. If Lucius had just watched, looked, for more than a few seconds without fear, he would see that the Dark Lord was in a rather good mood and seemed very coherent. More so than he had seen him for a good long while. The fact he was able to retain possession of Quirrell for months was awe-inspiring. It truly was, it spoke volumes of the immense magical powers at the tip of his fingers.

Of course, Corvus wasn’t aware of half of it, due to the fact the Dark Lord was actually bodiless, which made the possession even more amazing.

“Corvus,” Voldemort’s own sibilant voice was back, warning the wizard he was on thin ice.

“Harry’s scar has been bothering him intermittently throughout the past few months,” Corvus explained, as if him knowing Harry Potter wasn’t something unexpected. He did however, watch the Dark Lord and note that he didn’t seem even remotely surprised by his admission. “Never when he was alone, I thought perhaps someone was trying to read his mind, but it happened while there were only his friends around and once while he was sleeping, he didn’t remember writing that statement to me in the dead of the night.” The second time he did though.

Voldemort was vividly reminded of seeing the inside of Azkaban and the Lestrange brothers. While he didn’t have headaches, there must be some sort of connection between himself and the boy. The stronger he got, the stronger the connection became. He wondered if the connection would continue after he regained his body.

“Tell me, have you been seeing your sons with the boy?” Voldemort asked, turning to face Corvus, watching surprise flash very briefly pass over his features at the unexpected question.

“Every week,” Corvus confirmed, watching a speculative look come over Voldemort’s no doubt curious as to how he was able to achieve that. Truly, he owed the goblins of Gringotts a debt he’d never be able to repay for that idea. For giving Harry that idea, otherwise, well, it didn’t bear thinking about. “Has Quirrell been asked to give evidence at Dumbledore’s trial?” he had informed his lawyer who had been aware of what Dumbledore had done.

“Yes,” this seemed to amuse Voldemort, by that date, he would have his own body, and Quirrell, well if the ritual went according to plan – unproven as it was since he had created it specifically for this – he would walk away unscathed. This way, he would be free to go to the Ministry that day and inform them of what had gone down without fear of him being found out.

“It is good to see you again,” Corvus admitted, refraining from calling him ‘Tom’ or even ‘Riddle’ he would always think of him by those names, it was the ones he’d had when they met, and did for most of their formative years, by the time he was sixteen he had begun using the name Voldemort but only with a select few. He had for a while feared that the Dark Lord wouldn’t be able to find a way back to them, despite all the talk of achieving immortality, but the Dark Lord didn’t brag without something to back it up.

“It’s good to be back,” Voldemort replied sincerely, he’d begun to suspect he’d never make it back to Britain, to receive aid from his most faithful, when Quirrell had made his presence known. Looking for fame and fortune, to be something other than the Muggle Studies professor at Hogwarts, oh, it was like leading a lamb for the slaughter, he had of course, taken advantage of the situation. Who wouldn’t have in his case? He had transformed a shy, stuttering mess of a wizard into a tall proud man, he’d just needed someone to believe in him. Just like the rest of his Knights did, like Regulus Black, like Bellatrix, Severus however, had needed nothing but encouragement, the need to belong got them all in the end. A cause, a common cause had joined them all like brothers, and he intended to fix that. They were all in hiding, beaten down by a prejudice system, fearing that he would never rise again.

“My Lord, how can I be of aid to you?” Lucius asked, as always a little too eager to please.

Corvus grimaced, Lucius had always been that way, he suspected that Lucius saw Voldemort as some sort of father figure like much of the younger generation. Parents too busy trying to change the world to pay close enough attention to their children which resulted in this. Despite the fact they knew how it was…the circle was repeated. He could see it in Draco, the way he’d lit up hearing he was much like his grandfather had been…too sincere, how often did Lucius even compliment his son? That he looked for validation from others? Especially a wizard he hadn’t seen since he was a young boy, when he’d stopped coming to their little get togethers when it became too painful.

“My diary,” Voldemort stated sharply, unwilling to pander to the wizard, he was much too impatient for any of that. “And Corvus…I have a need of you,” Lucius was out of his seat in a shot, already making haste to obey the Dark Lord’s orders. Too frazzled and caught off guard to even consider summoning a House-elf to do his bidding. Despite the fact it meant leaving his wife practically alone with him.

“Me?” Corvus asked, staring up at the Dark Lord curiously, “What is it that you need?”

“Did Bellatrix ever speak of a cup? A chalice?” the Dark Lord questioned seriously. He’d assumed it was a smart idea giving them to his followers, amongst all the rest of the antiques they had it wouldn’t raise any brows. They’d be safe, while he planted the others in other safe places. He was hoping she had, despite the belief she wouldn’t have, he had explicitly told her to keep it a secret after all. It was precious to him.

“Of course she did,” Corvus replied, refraining from snorting, “She wouldn’t shut up about it, especially in like minded company.” She’d believed she was his ‘most faithful’ and that she’d been rewarded with trust because she’d been given a cup of all things. Honestly, it wasn’t that easy to truly gain the Dark Lord’s favour, but she was completely deluded, and didn’t have many moments of clarity, the older she got the worse she became.

“Do you know where she put it?” his tone becoming slightly more agitated than he had been before, but he was getting closer to his goal, closer to his end game, which was returning to his own body. Even as he was speaking, his mind was ticking away on how to make the ritual more powerful, more potent. Potters blood, Slytherin blood, added with his own. Perfect catalyst, added with the philosopher stone. Unfortunately, it had to be willingly given, something that might not be possible.

“I believe she mentioned putting it into the Lestrange vault at Gringotts,” Corvus explained, one of the many vaults they owed, their biggest one was in France, they rarely used it. Only using it when they were on holiday, in France, it was their preferred holiday destination.

“Retrieve it,” Voldemort asked, his tone not quite as curt as he had been with Lucius. Corvus had been loyal to him for decades, been a good friend to him when he needed it, one of the few original knights left. And despite Dumbledore’s opinion that he didn’t know how to feel positive emotions, he cared about Corvus, probably a great deal more than the wizard even realized.

Voldemort sat back down, retrieving himself a piece of cake, and begun to eat it. This was something he missed, he couldn’t wait to eat with taste buds of his own, instead of eating everything through Quirrell. Merlin, it had been a long, long ten years, he’d almost given up hope…but just as he was about to give up for good aid came to him. He’d long suspected his Knights would come to his aid, he hadn’t expected it to be one of Dumbledore’s professors at Hogwarts.

“What do you intend to do?” Corvus asked, watching him eat, rightfully being cautious when it came to Harry, he did not want to see him hurt by the Dark Lord, or worse. He did not deserve it, he had been nothing but loyal to the Lestrange family, more loyal than even Bellatrix. Not only that but he was a child still, and children were never killed, it was one line they never crossed. Until that night, it explained why the Dark Lord had acted alone that night, despite always taking at least one other with him as backup. He had lost a lot of respect that night, and things wouldn’t have been the same after word got out if he’d survived unscathed.

“I intended to return to my old self, my friend,” Voldemort confessed, smirking at the blanket look of shock on Corvus’ face. Yes, he knew it had been a long time since he had used that term, he had not been himself for a long time, he’d lost himself to the madness that ran in the Gaunt family. Even now he was struggling with it, hopefully with a body, the ritual and a lot more of his soul returned to whence it came, it might fix whatever he had done to himself. Thankfully he hadn’t touched the Unicorn blood, otherwise he suspected there would have been no stopping the descend to madness. That and he believed the boy had something to do with it.

“And Harry?” Corvus questioned, leaning back, sharp eyes on Voldemort, gleaning every reaction to his question he could.

“I must admit that night…I have dwelled on it for over a decade, while in agonising pain after I was ripped from my body. I have run over every possible scenario for how the boy survived, none fit, but given the boy is a Slytherin, a full blooded Slytherin,” Voldemort mused, due to both his parents being from the Slytherin line more so than him at that, “It explains why I couldn’t kill him. The Slytherin magic will not let us kill the other, not even indirectly, he ensured that if any attempts were made the plotter would lose their magic. This was all implemented before Salazar Slytherin’s rise to fame, his father I believe, to ensure that the brothers did not kill each other to inherit the full fortune after the middle son, Samael died, under suspicious circumstances.” Voldemort explained, he’d assumed it was Lily Potter – who he had a grudging respect for, not many stood up to him and refused him regardless of what he was asking – that had done something to ensure her sons survival. Blood magic and the like, but it wasn’t the case at all. Which meant the prophecy did not make sense, if they were unable to kill each other, how could the prophecy be complete? Something else he would need to figure out. Or perhaps he should delegate that to someone else, he feared he might end up going the same way again if he obsessed on it.

Voldemort could see that Corvus was extremely protective of the boy, he could tell by every line of the wizards body. The only others Corvus was protective of was his sons, what had the boy done in a few months to ensnare his good friend?

“You don’t seem surprised by my presence in Harry’s life,” Corvus admitted, cocking his head slightly, observing the Dark Lord. “Harry and I have ensured Dumbledore remained ignorant to Harry’s change in life…” so how was it that the Dark Lord knew?

“He certainly kept annoying the old fool,” Voldemort said, a full-blooded smirk on his face, he’d never thought the old man would keep an annoyingly close watch on anyone other than himself. It was almost insulting in a way, but considering Dumbledore wanted to use both of them for a reason…perhaps it wasn’t so insulting. “He did not give himself away, the book you sent him from the Lestrange library, I managed to catch a glimpse of it while he was in my class.” It was one of the rarest books in the world, perhaps even the only copy left in the British isles, it hadn’t taken him long to put the pieces together. Especially with seeing Azkaban when he was awake and coherent. It was one of the books he’d devoured decades ago, the Lestrange library had everything, although there were a few in Lucius Malfoy’s library that he would like to read.

Corvus relaxed at that, grateful that Dumbledore hadn’t somehow worked it out. It was the last thing they needed overclouding the court case. Although, just because he didn’t have that, didn’t mean he didn’t have any other causes or cases up his sleeve. “You have not revealed your intentions towards him,” he added, refusing to back down on this.

“The diary as you requested, My Lord,” Lucius murmured, slipping back into his old role with ease. He’d had it hidden, impervious to summoning, and under a whole load of charms and spells. It wouldn’t be the first time the Ministry had raided his home looking for ‘dark artefacts’ as it were. He was slightly breathless having ran down to the dungeons, then crawled through the secret room to get to it.

Voldemort barely paid any attention to Lucius, merely took the diary and slid it into his lap, fingers tapping idly against it, he did not lie, it was one of the things he absolutely refused to do, when he made promises he did his all to keep them. Just like he had promised he would try when it came to sparing Lily Potters life, and he would have done so should she have stood aside. “Would an unbreakable Vow sate you?”

Corvus visibly startled at hearing that, “Excuse me?” the Dark Lord would swear an Unbreakable Vow to what end? That he wouldn’t attack Harry?

“With a few stipulations,” Voldemort conceded, his mind mulling over everything he could use to his own advantage. He was a Slytherin, he wasn’t about to short-change himself after all.

“Which are?” Corvus asked, straightening up, eyes narrowing in contemplation, ready to get down to business. He would do anything to protect Harry and his interests, even against the Dark Lord who was evidently up to something. He knew whatever it was…it wouldn’t be easily accepted. Yet, if it kept Harry protected then he would ensure it.

“Father?” Draco asked, causing Narcissa and Lucius to almost come out of their seats in shock, they’d been rather immersed in the conversation. They automatically glanced outside, almost as if they expected the two boys to still be there. They weren’t of course, they were standing right at the door, opening up Lucius’ worse nightmare. “Professor Quirrell?” utterly bewildered, he had no idea that his father even knew his professor.

Harry was rubbing at his forehead, wincing, staring at Quirrell suspiciously, “You,” Harry mouthed to himself, perturbed as to why the hell it would be Quirrell of all people that made his scar burn. He closed his mouth with a snap when Corvus gestured for him to remain silent. Not questioning him despite his confusion.

“Have you finished showing Mr. Potter the grounds, son?” Narcissa asked, her tone noticeably changing when she said the name. Added to the fact, Harry hadn’t given them leave to use his name, thus they called him ‘Mr. Potter’ despite how they’d been introduced it was still only proper.

“Yes, is it time?” Draco asked, referring to the ritual they did after eating their lunch and of course before dinner. He wasn’t completely unused to other wizards and witches dropping in to see his father, for whatever reason. It was however, the first time that it had been a professor at his school. So, it didn’t knock him sideways, although he was deeply curious as to why he was there to begin with, perhaps he needed a loan from his father? Or some legal help?

“I am afraid neither Harry or I will be able to stay for the rituals,” Corvus explained, standing up. Harry would no doubt be grateful for it really, he hadn’t wished to come all that much. Considering how rude Narcissa was being after inviting him, well, he wouldn’t have stayed much longer anyway. He suspected it was more Lucius’ idea, given how curious he had been up until they’d been interrupted. “Thank you for hosting us, it was lovely, as always,” the words coming out of his mouth out of sheer habit than any actual real meaning behind it. He ignored the look of incredulity that Harry threw him very quickly, it seemed as though Harry definitely wasn’t fond of the elder Malfoys’, but unfortunately, not many could actually they were. With that Corvus moved to stand behind Harry, giving him a little nudge to remind him.

“Thank you for having us, Sir, Ma’am,” Harry said politely and dutifully, when it became apparent Corvus was waiting for him to say the words. “I’ll write to you, Draco,” he added with a genuine smile at his friend, he might not be too fond of his friends parents but that wasn’t Draco’s fault. He wasn’t going to hold that against him.

“Thank you for coming,” Lucius said smoothly, giving a nod to everyone there.

“Lucius I’d like a word, Corvus I shall see you in half an hour,” Voldemort demanded, completely ignoring the gawping that Lucius’ offspring was doing, while he glanced at Harry and smirked when he noticed the speculative look on his face. He had noticed the contemplative look when he first entered too, at least this one used is brain, but he already knew this, he’d been observing Harry since the moment he entered Hogwarts. Saw him gain weight, confidence and flourish within Hogwarts albeit definitely not challenged enough, much like he himself had been, but also like him, he had been reading any book he could get on his favoured subject. No doubt the similarities in them terrified Dumbledore to the core.

“Excuse us,” Narcissa was scrambling to get her and her son out of there, not even bothering with an excuse, no doubt the Dark Lord wished to speak to Lucius alone anyway. Despite the fact she wished to run, she didn’t, decorum had been instilled in her since infancy. Instead, she guided her son out, leaving her husband with the Dark Lord. Calming marginally as she and Draco led Corvus and Harry out, paying zero attention to what the boys were discussing.

Which was incidentally missing playing each other at chess.

“Perhaps Draco would like to join you for lunch tomorrow?” Corvus suggested, it was impetuous to invite yourself to someone’s home. Draco would never ask, of course, Harry wouldn’t realize this was what Draco was trying to suggest. He knew a lot, but he had only been in the wizarding world for nearing six months, at Hogwarts for four, in some instances his unfamiliarity on certain subjects do crop up now and again.

“I’d like that!” Draco said, positively beaming in happiness, which meant he had a smile on his face. It disappeared the moment they stepped out of the manor and onto the grounds. The boy was as always, the perfect pureblood heir, bit too dependant on his parents and their approval, but they were the only family he had, which was unfortunate. He always beat the others, they were totally incapable of playing the long game…then again, Harry was bad too, but he was getting better, he actually listened when he instructed him how to play, and with Corvus teaching him too, it was hardly surprising that he was learning fast. He couldn’t wait until he was really, really challenged in a game. Blaise was the biggest challenge he got for an opponent, close to next would be Daphne Greengrass.

“Where are we going? Home?” Harry asked, he was trusting Corvus here, and he wondered if he would pay for that with his life. Oh, he wasn’t stupid, he knew who that guy was, or rather heavily suspected at this rate. He didn’t know how, how he was in Quirrell, or perhaps he always was?

“Gringotts first,” Corvus explained, “Trust me, Harry, I wont allow anyone to do you any harm, if this goes according to plan…you’ll be safer than anyone else is.”

Harry looked up at Corvus, “I am,” he was trusting him, he was the first person he had trusted in his life.

Corvus squeezed his shoulder, “I’m glad,” it wasn’t very often a Lestrange was trusted, and it wasn’t ignorance that led to their contract, Harry had known going in what had happened. What his boys had supposedly done to the Longbottoms, and Merlin only knows what he thought during all that. Yet he’d allowed him to help, and a long the way he had gained the boy’s trust, he would not fail him during one of the worst hurdles

“It is him, isn’t it?” Harry asked, relaxing his fingers twitching away from his scar now that it had settled without the close proximity.

“Yes,” Corvus revealed, he wasn’t about to lie to the boy, especially about something he already knew himself. “Yes it’s him, now hold on,” Harry waved at Draco in goodbye, but Draco didn’t wave in turn, he merely nodded his head in Harry’s direction.

A few moments later, both Corvus and Harry disappeared from sight. Leaving only the hills surrounding Malfoy manor devoid of life.

-------0

Corvus apparated them both outside of Gringotts, his mind reeling over the events of this afternoon. He’d expected a normal Yule afternoon, as a guest with the Malfoy’s never something like this. He wasn’t entirely surprised Tom had returned, he had known he would, even if he had given up a little bit more hope as the years passed, but yes, the manner in which he had turned up and the time had astonished him.

“You’re you,” Harry commented, glancing around, but it was deserted really, most of the shops were closed, only one remained open, as far as Harry could see. A small convenience store, that was run by Parvati’s cousins, she was close to her cousin, her entire family actually. They celebrated Yule but not Christmas, mostly the rituals and such, not the gift giving and also something called Pancha Ganapati, a Hindi celebration Harry believed.

Regardless of how empty the Alley seemed, Corvus immediately cursed his own thoughtlessness and cast an immediate and effective spell to become invisible to all eyes that moved – except of course the goblins – creatures were impervious to a lot of magic wizards used.

“You’re worried,” Harry realized, which was a shock in and on itself, he’d never seen Corvus anything other than assured of his own abilities. Confident and proud, at least he was assuming Corvus was worried, but he could be wrong…it was just he’d never seen Corvus make a mistake like that, such as Apparating them both in public with both of them as themselves and no spells to change his appearance or make himself invisible.

“No,” Corvus disagreed immediately, before his tone softened, “Apprehensive perhaps, but not truly worried…I do not believe there is any danger.”

“If you looked under apprehensive you’d find worried, uneasy and nervous,” Harry pointed out as they stepped up the marble steps of Gringotts, and into the warmth of the building. Which by the way, Harry still couldn’t help but stare at in awe, compared to the rest of the Alley, this place was a palace in comparison, no doubt about it.

Corvus so badly wanted to roll his eyes, but it was very unseemly, smart mouth he had. Definitely would do good work as a lawyer, which seemed to be Harry’s career choice judging by his recent reading materials. Or it may have something to do with the case they were trying to build for his boys. He had expressed a tentative desire to do something regarding law, but plans could change, he was young, eleven years old. He knew how many times their minds can change at that age, his own sons had done the same thing changed what they wanted to do, those days were long gone. They’d never achieved their ends, despite having the money they could have used to accomplish that.

“If things go the way I suspect they are…as I said before, you’re going to be safer than most,” Corvus murmured quietly, as he made his way towards the empty goblin waiting room, which was usually bustling with wizards and witches, now it was like ghost town for now. Everyone was busy celebrating Yule. Thankfully, he didn’t have to search through all the vaults, since Bellatrix only had access to one. The one vault had more artefacts than actual money, he hadn’t trusted her, so only allowed her admittance to one vault, tradition dictate he give her access, and thus he had done so. His son hadn’t been impressed, but that had been during the enamoured state, until he realized what sort of wife he had. Then it had been nothing but gratitude, she’d tried once, just once to sell family heirlooms, but never again.

“You’ve said, but what exactly is going on?” Harry asked, not caring that if anyone around him had seen him, they would have thought him mad talking to himself.

“How can we help you?” the grizzly looking grouchy goblin asked, looking mad but probably just bored to tears.

“I’d like to visit the main family vault,” Corvus intoned neutrally, it might be the ‘main’ family vault where all his family could access it, including Bellatrix, but there were others filled with nothing but gold and positively bursting with items.

“Follow me,” and with that the goblin begun to take them the long twisted winding way towards the deep underground of Gringotts in order to take them to the very secure vault.

A shudder ran through Harry’s body, at the loud reverberating sound of snarls, whatever was down there was very, very pissed off. Then Harry gasped, his mouth open in shock at the sight of the goblin rattling something that clanged, it clearly terrified the dragon. It did not look normal, Harry’s hand was raised to his mouth at the horror of what he was seeing. All the magic they had at their disposal and this was what they did? Capture and imprison a dragon ? Had it ever breathed fresh air?

“You don’t deserve magic, not if this is what you choose to do to creatures,” Harry said, his voice echoing in the chamber, his tone pained as he stared at the cowering dragon. It was wrong on so many levels to see something like that. The respect he had for the goblins, for the aid they had shown him…diminished greatly.

“Harry,” Corvus cautioned him, as he stepped towards the creature, “It will fry you to a crisp before you know it.” stalking forward before Harry did something spectacularly stupid. Freezing as he placed his hands on Harry’s shoulders as he begun to speak Parseltongue, and the magic emanating from him suggested it was not just speaking but Parselmagic.

The goblin paid no attention to their conversation, instead he was busy opening the Lestrange vault and failed to see what was occurring.

Once the magic disappointed, Harry hissed some more, but this time, there was no magic emanating from him, he was just speaking.

“What did you do?” Corvus whispered unable to believe that Harry was instinctively using Parselscript. Unless, unless he had been reading up on Parselscript as well, he needed to keep a better eye on the teen.

Harry just solemnly shook his head, he wasn’t stupid enough to reveal that here.

“Very well, come,”

 

Harry realized quite quickly it was different from accessing his vault – albeit it had only been a trust vault – he wondered if his actual family vault was down this far. They didn’t use a key for one thing, the goblin actually had to use magic to open the vault doors. The door literally bled away, revealing the inside. Craning his neck he gasped in awe at the sight before him. The urge to step inside was strong, he wanted so badly to investigate everything, but he also knew better. He shouldn’t just touch things that didn’t belong to him lest they be cursed.

Eyes still roaming around, it was cave-like the opening crammed from floor to ceiling with golden coins and goblets, silver armour, the skins of strange creatures — some with long spines, others with drooping wings — potions in jewelled flasks, and a skull still wearing a crown which made Harry grin and laugh he had to admit he would have done something similar.

“Find that amusing do you?” Corvus asked, eyes twinkling as he figured out what Harry found so hilarious. The worries he had disappearing, just enjoying hearing Harry laugh. He’d been more serious than an eleven-year-old had the right to be since they first met. To hear him so carefree, well, it was good.

Harry couldn’t help but grin and nod.

“Rabastan did that when he was sixteen,” Corvus revealed, his own lips twitching as he was reminded of better times. Rodolphus had laughed with him, both of them carefree, before the world had shown how ugly it could be, not that they’d had much in the way of peace, the prejudice of their last name. “Rodolphus was disappointed that he couldn’t find a matching sceptre.” Merlin, they were going to be overjoyed to know that the Dark Lord was back on the scene.

“We’ll get them out,” Harry swore. “One day they’ll be free,”

Coming from any other eleven-year-old Corvus would have scoffed, found their childish words disgusting and degrading. Yet, so far, with said eleven-year-olds aid, it was the most success he’d had in a long time. Their was a possible strong Lumos at the long of the dark permanently Nox tunnel. Even if they didn’t succeed, they had significantly reduced the Dementor’s time present on the island, and there were still so many laws that he planned on changing so that his sons lives were comfortable until he could get that retrial.

Sirius Black might be his best bet, besides Harry that is.

“Easy, don’t touch anything,” Corvus warned him, “All the treasure inside has been cursed,” he’d rather not be buried alive and burned if it could be avoided, which it most certainly could.

“After all this?” Harry gestured around, dragons, requiring a goblins presence, it seemed overkill to him. “What does it do?” the overkill is the override button on the Goblin cart which would see the thieves overturned in the cart and left for dead.

“All the treasure inside had been cursed with Geminio and Flagrante. Thus, everything is hot to the touch and will replicate at a rapid rate if touched, until the potential thief is buried and burned. These replicates are identical in appearance, but have no monetary value whatsoever.” Corvus explained as he walked through the pile to get to the cup which Bellatrix had placed in line of sight in a place of pride.

“Cool,” Harry had to admire their determination to keep everything safe, “I wonder if mine is the same…”

“You’ll find out the first time you intend to enter your vault, with no-one in the family left to tell you of any safeguards, the goblins will inspect it to ensure you don’t accidentally curse yourself.” Corvus explained, checking to make sure it was actually safe to touch the chalice, when it became clear that he would be fine, he was soon touching Helga Hufflepuff’s golden chalice. Merlin, as far as he understood, it had been in the Hufflepuff family for generations, if he recalled correctly it had gone missing, a lot of money had been offered for its safe return. Hadn’t someone been murdered? A break-in had been blamed? It wasn’t just the chalice either…it was something else…he just couldn’t recall what. It was just such a long time ago, just after he left Hogwarts while he was taught the ways of the Lordship he had inherited from his father. He would find out, he hadn’t been aware that Tom had been responsible for it. No matter, he would just need to be careful as not to expose its existence to the public, he’d rather not be blamed for an unsolved theft.

“That’s…good,” Harry conceded, watching him place the chalice in his inside pocket, keeping it safe and secure. “Why does he want it?” what good would it do him, “Is it worth a lot?”

“It’s not going for sale,” Corvus informed him, already heavily suspecting why exactly Tom wanted this, and why it was so valuable. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it, there was just some magicks that shouldn’t be performed. He believed this was one of them…but Tom had never feared any branch of magic, light, neutral, dark, or even the darkest of arts. He even dabbled in necromancy, that showed he was not afraid to go to lengths others would not. This wasn’t magic he wanted to even explain to an eleven-year-old, no, that would all wait until he was older and less curious. Aware of the dangers of performing a lot of dark arts and its addictive qualities. “Come let’s go,” Corvus gently but firmly urging Harry out of the vault where the goblin was waiting patiently for them, before the goblin could wave the clangers, Harry pressed his hands against them so they couldn’t make any noise and hissed, “Can we go now?” he asked as the dragon turned it’s face away from them, making a strained hissing noise in return.

Whatever it said, certainly dried up Harry’s good mood, “Soon,” he hissed out his promise. Not that either the goblin or Corvus understood.

“I had…no idea dragons could understand Parselmouth,” Corvus admitted, and it wasn’t easily admitted, at his age not knowing was embarrassing. Especially considering he had a ‘good friend’ who was in fact a Parselmouth and had smugly answered each and every question anyone asked him regarding his abilities. He wondered if Tom even knew that titbit.

The goblin was grudgingly nodding along too, evidently in agreement to the statement of fact that Dragons could understand Parselmouth. The three climbed back into the cart and were on their way back to Gringotts before they knew it. Harry didn’t speak – not that he’d have been heard well with the constant whooshing – until they got back to their feet.

“They’re reptilian…it makes sense that they can speak it,” Harry explained. “Interestingly enough, not everything has to be reptilian to speak parseltongue,” this much he’d read in one of the books, Corvus never let him accept even his answers, he always made sure Harry had knowledge from books to back him up so that he learned and continued to do so. Never to take even someone trusted word without confirmation.

“That’s quite correct,” Corvus agreed, he’d read the book he’d given to Harry on loan a dozen times in his lifetime, it was a fascinating book.

“Will we have time to open the gifts?” Harry asked, he wanted to see what Corvus thought of his own gift. He’d spent what free time he had writing it just in time, he’d had three last chapters he’d planned on finishing when Dumbledore had enchanted him. Well, after taking his potions at any rate, potions came first.

“Of course,” Corvus agreed, they didn’t have a large hoard of them to get through, he had gotten Harry a gift from himself, Rodolphus and Rabastan – their own idea he’d just brought them – and his friends had sent something along as well as the gifts from the Malfoy’s…not to forget Dumbledore. He’d been tempted to burn it, or open it to ensure that nothing was dangerous, and intended to make sure anything inside of it wasn’t touched until it was inspected thoroughly. He waited until they were away from the prying ears of the goblins and just about outside of Gringotts before he spoke again. “I hope you understand you must…have care while speaking, he does not tolerate disrespect,” the last thing he wanted to do was have to shield Harry from the Cruciatus Curse if Tom took any aversion to the way he spoke. Given his…bad health, it would be very easy to break numerous bones if Tom put it on him for even a second. He shuddered to think really, so prevention was better than the cure, so he would give him warning.

Harry remained silent but nodded that he had heard Corvus and understood. It was his turn to feel anxious, no, terrified being faced with the Dark Lord Voldemort. He had two pictures in his head, and they did not mix well. Corvus, didn’t actually talk about him unless Harry brought it up or he was ruminating on his younger years. That time was usually when Voldemort had apparently tried to go down the political route but had been blocked at every corner by Dumbledore who was at his height of power and fame. He didn’t shy away from the picture he painted of the last few years of the war though either. He was truthful about it, and Harry was grateful for that, since nobody else seemed inclined to talk about it.

“Ready?” Corvus asked, wrapping his hands around the boy, only once he received the go-ahead did he Apparate them both back to Lestrange manor.

“Well, what did you think of them?” Corvus asked, as always fascinated to hear what Harry thought about certain pureblood traditions and the ways of old, that were slowly dying out as less and less people bothered teaching their offspring and traditionalists were dying in high numbers.

“He’s creepy,” Harry admitted, he didn’t care that Corvus and Lucius were friends, “He was far too interested in me, and it was disgusting, it made my skin crawl.” Which was all true enough.

“I did notice that particular reaction,” Corvus agreed, he’d never seen Harry act skittish enough to actually outwardly react. “Is there a reason for it?” belatedly dawning on him, worry that Harry had been prey to that sort before in the past.

“No, it was just disturbing,” Harry admitted, it didn’t really dawn on him exactly what Corvus was implying. Grimacing slightly as he walked, the aches and pains beginning to make themselves known.

Corvus relaxed fully hearing that, and reminded by the reply Harry gave during the contract reading. Specifically his reaction to anything remotely ‘sexual’ in nature, he was embarrassed and didn’t wish to discuss it. Considering Harry had nobody else, sex education was definitely going to be discussed before Harry turned thirteen. He had to ensure Harry didn’t end up getting a girl pregnant, having a bastard child was not a good thing, especially if the girl was attempting to get money from Harry or worse his hand in marriage. It had been done before in the past by naïve children, and he wasn’t going to allow it to happen to Harry. He might be ‘eew’ when it comes to talk to sex for now, but he would grow into his own and wish to explore, nothing he could do until the contract was over of course.

“We must be late for my potions,” Harry said worriedly, he didn’t want to end up farther back than Dumbledore had already dragged him.

“No, not quite yet, but remember what Millicent said, you’ve been pushed back a little,” Corvus explained, calling out to the House-elves as they walked a little slower towards the manor. It was a long trek for someone in pain, and he definitely wasn’t waiting until they got in, for Harry to say anything about it…he must be in quite a bit of pain. “You’ll feel it a little sharper, your body has been through a trauma,” the shock of the full force of the pain and not getting relief for hours and the constant standing…well, it was little wonder he was in pain.

The House-elf showed up with the box of potions, he’d been instructed to have it ready for when Harry had to take his next dose but they’d expected him to be enjoying luncheon at Malfoy Manor not back at Lestrange Manor. It was opened and Corvus removed what he needed and waved the House-elf away. For once Harry said nothing, not even a ‘Thank you’ merely waited for the potions, he almost cried in relief when the pain dimmed considerably. The others were given at the same time, as they always were, and before long, he had a lot of potion on top of his Yule dinner – that he’d had with Rabastan and Rodolphus and lunch which admittedly he hadn’t eaten a lot of. Still full from earlier, he’d eaten a bit too much, but it had been delicious.

“What of Narcissa?” continuing their conversation as if it had never stalled in the first place.

“Felt like cutting her nose off,” Harry muttered under his breath, but Corvus heard him and actually burst out laughing. A full belly laugh that caught even the wizard in question off guard. He couldn’t say he understood that feeling, he’d given that look often enough, and he idly wondered if that’s what they had thought too, when he did it.

“Ah, back at last, let’s get you settled down, do you have any preferences as to where?” Corvus queried, his cheeks and stomach hurting a little from the laughing.

“Front sitting room?” Harry suggested, the most comfortable couches with plenty of padding was in there. It was where he frequented a lot.

“Prefect, would you like a drink to wash the taste away?” Corvus asked as they made their way inside, the doors closing with little snicks as they went.

“A glass of orange juice please?” Harry suggested, as he opened the door to the front sitting room, there was already a fire roaring, and Harry gratefully made his way over to the sofa and sank down gratefully.

Corvus ordered their new drinks and summoned the gifts, his and Harry’s separated until they had their own small smattering of gifts. Most of Corvus’ was from acquaintances, but there was one that had him truly curious…Harry’s. Was it a simple genetic gift like the ones he got each year…or had Harry managed to weasel enough information out of him to actually get something he would cherish?

“Wow! Is that…it is!” Harry squeaked out in pure happiness, almost vibrating, it was a large Rune craft box, it had dozens of materials, leather, cotton specialised paper, gems, and more importantly an actual Rune crafting set, actual rune crafting materials instead of turning his wand into a needle to do it. These were expensive, the gemstones were real, nothing like diamonds in it or anything, just cubic zirconia and other minor gems like amethyst.

“I’m going to assume you like it?” Corvus teased as he opened his own gift, perplexed by the tomb. Fingers trailing down the ‘spine’ and front. It didn’t take him long to figure out what Harry had gifted him with, the pages he realized had been imbued with magic so that the writing became printed word instead of handwriting. His jaw dropped as realisation sprang. Harry had carefully then had it bound in book form, whether he’d figured out how to do it on his own or had it done he wasn’t sure. He held in his hands the only copy – presumably anyway since he had no idea if anyone else had a copy that another Parselmouth had translated for them – a book he’d had for just over a decade, but unable to read was now open to him. He’d done all this in a few months? He saw in awe, truly, of Harry’s determination.

“Do you like it?” Harry asked, clearly worried that Corvus wouldn’t like it.

“I love it, thank you, Harry,” Corvus’ face softened considerably, something only Harry and his sons ever got to see. He loved this particular author, who so happened to be a Parselmouth, five of his books were written in Parselscript, he had the entire collection regardless of whether he could speak it or not. He’d never written anything he hadn’t found entirely too fascinating. Tom had always been too busy to even have Corvus contemplate asking him for a translation. He’d informed Harry about the books the day he’d found out about his particular gift. He had yet to track down any Parselscript spell books, but it had only been a few months thus far. He’d find something one day, he was sure. Translation spells didn’t work with the snake language.

Harry’s face split into a wide grin, clearly pleased with himself. He was new to all this gift giving, Christmas and birthdays had been forgotten days when it came to him, or worse they pretended to buy him things when he was little and gullible and rendered him so heartbroken. Each gift he got from his friends whether it was just a few sweets and books that would do him in his second year at Hogwarts, he didn’t care, they thought about him and that was all that mattered. Plus, they knew he liked to read, and had noticed that. He’d even received a Honeydukes voucher with a note that said ‘for when you can’ from Blaise. Draco had gifted him with a Runes book by Jacques, a French Author and Runes Master, only one problem, he wasn’t bloody proficient in French. He hadn’t learned it growing up, but, it was another challenge he supposed, but it would need to come later.

The last gift was an envelope, Harry opened it and peered in curiously. Taking out the documents, and it didn’t take long for him to realize what it was. A holiday, an actual holiday, well, two, France and Rome, it was a holiday that would stretch out all summer holidays with itinerary which were empty on Saturdays, for Azkaban visits.

“This is all dependant on whether you’re given the all clear, the itinerary will be lightened considerably if you aren’t fully recovered.” Corvus explained, “You can lounge around for the week or two if need be.” The holiday for France was more of a relaxing trip than Rome, he planned on showing Harry around the temples and other interesting magical areas anyway.

“As just us?” Harry asked, surprised.

“Just as we are,” Corvus confirmed.

“What if someone sees?” Harry asked, Corvus had always expressed the need for secrecy, and Harry had to agree, he wasn’t quite ready or able to withstand the potential backlash. Plus, the last thing he needed was the Ministry trying to interfere, even if they couldn’t, they could still make his life hellish, and with Dumbledore at the helm he’d relish it.

“It’s very doubtful news will reach here, its only Britain that seemed so enamoured with the ‘Boy-Who-Lived’,” Corvus explained patiently, Harry would just pass as a wizard with his grandfather in both France and Rome, of that he had no doubt. Sort of running directly into Dumbledore, nobody would be any the wiser, plus if anyone saw them, he would ensure they didn’t make it back to report it to the old fool.

“I best get learning French then!” Harry said smugly, another reason.

“And that is where your last gift comes in,” Corvus replied with a touch smugness. A book that would help Harry in his endeavour to learn French.

Harry couldn’t help himself, he flung himself over to Corvus and hugged him, “Thank you,” he whispered gratitude and happiness exuding from his every pore. “This has been the best Chr…Yule ever.”

“You’re welcome,” Corvus said, patting his back, he was too easily excitable, but Corvus watched in pride as Harry quickly reigned it in. Still beaming but keeping himself a poised and not ready to jump around in excitement. “Ah, we have company,” he realized, sensing the shift in the wards, his made Lucius’ look inadequate, hence why he’d never felt the Dark Lord arrive.

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The next morning the Daily Prophet headline was: Gringotts Mystery! Missing Dragon guard, no signs of break-in goblins assures!

Below the title was a picture of a similar dragon of its kind, cautioning everyone to be aware. They had no idea how the culprit had managed to get the dragon out of Gringotts. After all...magic didn't work on dragons.
Their scales made magic reflect back.

Corvus just stared, it had to be a coincidence, it just had to be.

 

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The scenes with Voldemort, Corvus and Harry will probably either be a Flashback or conversations that Corvus and Harry have with the Lestrange brothers which would you prefer it to be? Hearing about it from their POV or seeing the scene play out? next chapter Dumbledore's trial so prison time or hefty fines? Will something happen to the lawyer preventing him from mounting his attack on Dumbledore? Dumbledore arranging something so that he would get off scot free? thank you for the advice on gifts ;) i'm really bad at those! Will Voldemort arrange to free his followers and do it or will Harry talk him out of it and suggest waiting so that the plans he and Corvus had could be enacted? How long will they take to be freed? Harry's third year? or by the end of his second year? R&R please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Look out for the numerous flashbacks guys! :)

Chapter 23

Rabastan despite where he was, was constantly hyped up for Saturday, which was today, especially after he had felt the Dark Mark heat up and return to its full vibrancy. It had the Death Eaters up in arms, hell, he’d even heard Bellatrix’s endless cackling the day it happened for half an hour! Longer than he’d ever heard her make a noise in years. Thankfully though, it seemed as if everyone had calmed down, either that or the happiness at the news had been sucked out of them leaving him in the same place they’d been before the mark heating up again. He and Rodolphus were probably the only ones who had retained their excitement.

The globe he had prevented the Dementors from affecting him as did – he hoped – the gift Harry had gifted his brother. He was amazing with Runes, he liked to think he inspired it, since he’d been the one to go through everything Rune related with Harry during their Saturday visits. Harry was quite eager to learn, and Rabastan was very happy to teach someone who was interested, and late he realized, happy to learn about the craft, Rabastan was the only one in his family interested in runes. His father and Rod had written it off as a useless craft and not worthy of their time. Speaking of the globe, Rabastan hastily switched it off, almost vibrating out of his skin to tell his father what happened, he could hear them coming.

By the time the guards had opened his door, Rabastan had successfully masked his excitement, and stood to but considering Yule had been last Saturday…it must be New Year Eve tonight, tomorrow would be the beginning of yet another year stuck in this hellhole. They also went a different way, which allowed Rabastan to pass Rodolphus and Bellatrix’s cell, and what used to be Barty’s, then Black’s…or what he thought was Black’s he didn’t see him in the cell. He could hear someone from around the corner asking about Black. He strained to Unfortunately, as slow as he walked…the interview room loomed.

It was barely seven minutes before Rodolphus joined him, who had a frown on his face, contemplative, evidently lost in thought looking actually slightly worried.

“Rolph?” Rabastan whispered, cautious about his brothers mood. Why would he be worried? What had happened in the last week? Shouldn’t he be in a good mood considering their Lord had finally returned them? There was silencing spells on this room, so they didn’t need to watch what they were saying, at least when the door was closed at any rate. “Rodolphus?” he said his brothers full name.

Just then the door opened and Harry and their father made their appearance.

“Hey,” Harry said cheerfully, putting the box in the centre of the room, giving them both secretive smiles, until the door closed with a slam.

“Black’s getting a trial,” Rodolphus informed them grimly to the surprise of everyone. Everyone assumed they would definitely be getting down to business with Voldemort. All unaware that the others actually knew what was happen.

“What?” Harry asked, narrowing his eyes, “Dumbledore,” Harry was quick to deduce, “Does he think releasing Sirius Black will get him everything he wants?” annoyance thrumming through him.

Seeing the grimace on Rodolphus and Rabastan’s faces...

“Can he?” his gaze zoning in on Corvus, naturally trusting him to give an honest answer. “Corvus?” his heart pounding away like a drum, feeling faint his already pale features paling farther rabidly still.

“He can petition for you to live with him,” Corvus revealed seriously, “He is your parents chosen magical guardian, and the magical world…if Black is proven innocent will want desperately to appease him. They will not consider denying his request. However, he has been here for a decade, without reprieve, that will take time to recover from.”

Harry’s face tightened hearing the words he definitely didn’t want to acknowledge.

“Before we panic, what exactly did you overhear son and where?” Corvus asked, not admitting it but the thought of Black gaining custody of Harry did not sit well with him. He would fight it as long as he was able, but he knew in the end he’d lose. If it was anyone other than ‘Harry Potter the-boy-who-lived’ the courts wouldn’t care, but he wasn’t Harry Potter, and regretfully it would make all the difference.

“Not much, short, fat guy with a green robes with a matching green bowler hat and blonde hair came to see Black,” Rodolphus frowned trying to remember more about the particular guy. “Something about Fudge?” now he wanted some sweets.

“The Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, the fact he’s here right now does not bode well, at all,” Corvus became increasingly concerned.

“Dumbledore will already be aware that Voldemort is back, he will have become desperate to bring me to heel.” Harry said thoughtfully, “This is why he’s made a move to get Black released from Azkaban…he’s the only one that stands a chance of getting custody of me…” if what Corvus says is true. Thus control of his seats until he was fourteen, but really…going through all that to continue for only three years? Or did Dumbledore have another card up his sleeve to prevent it?

“Agreed,” Corvus said, having already come to the conclusion, his son perhaps slower than normal due to the prison had probably already caught on.

“You know?” Rabastan gaped incredulously, unable to believe that Harry was aware so soon, he would understand his father knowing but…there was no reason Harry might. “Your scar?” assuming he might have felt it like they had with their marks.

“No,” Harry said grinning widely, amused by what had happened a week ago. “I met him,” twice actually.

“You’re joking?” Rodolphus choked, literally, as he began to cough having swallowed the hot chocolate down the wrong pipe.

“What did you overhear between Fudge and Black?” Corvus questioned his son, refusing to let the conversation be side-tracked.

“Not much, Fudge was talking to Black through the cell door, trial was mentioned but I was too far away to hear anything else,” Rodolphus explained.

“How long do you think he’ll take to get a trial? If it means they’re trying to give him a trial?” Harry asked, perturbed. He didn’t want to end up with Sirius Black, he didn’t know him, he was happy with Corvus, he wanted to remain with a wizard he could trust…and he did trust Corvus, he’d more than proven that. “Maybe they’ve just started the ball rolling with him not having had a trial…” he could hope at any rate. It just meant he’d need to read as much as humanly possible, especially everything regarding the magical world and it’s laws so that he could claim emancipation if it gets close.

“Anywhere between weeks and months, but without Dumbledore having any say in the wizengamot it could be drawn out.” Corvus mused thoughtfully, “We will just have to wait and see if anything comes from Dumbledore’s manipulations, I do believe Fudge will prefer to bury his head in the sand.” It was his usual method after all.

“Do you think I should meet with him?” Harry asked, wondering if he could convince Black he doesn’t want to live with him.

“I think you should have little to do with Black as possible, if Fudge finds you suddenly visiting Black he might actually make moves to help.” Corvus admitted, his black eyes shrewd, “He might not be willing to help Dumbledore who has lost a lot of power but you…he knows how much power you can endorse him within the Ministry and the public.”

“It might get Rabastan and Rodolphus out sooner, if it all comes to light…” Harry pointed out, “As you’ve said, a lot of pureblood’s are going to be furious when they realize Black didn’t get a trial, especially now that he’s technically Lord Black even though he hasn’t claimed his titles.”

“Black cannot claim his titles, he was disowned, even as the last male heir. Orion struck him from the family tree and Gringotts. Black’s Uncle Alphard was also removed due to the fact upon his death he gave Sirius a considerable sum of money from his own vaults.” Corvus explained, “Only yourself or Draco Malfoy can claim the Black fortune as your own, due to the close ties you have with Black…you are the one with the greater chance of succeeding.”

“And if nobody does…it goes to the Ministry,” Rabastan joined the conversation, his face a grim line. “You should claim them.” Rabastan’s lips curled at the thought of the Ministry getting such an immense fortune from a damn pureblood.

“Being the Lord of both lines might actually give you stronger means of staying emancipated whenever this all does come out.” Rodolphus added this own thoughts to the conversation. “Being the Lord of two, or rather becoming Lord of two lines, the seats you’ll have, you’ll find not many wish to antagonise you.”

Harry glanced at Corvus desiring to know if it was true.

“It is true,” Corvus agreed, a thoughtful look on his face, “Especially two prominent ones like the Potter’s and Blacks.”

“I can barely keep up with learning about the Potter vaults,” Harry said, sighing softly, Corvus was still teaching him everything he needed to know about the magical world. Yes, he was reading a lot of books but Corvus also demonstrated everything by letting him see and observe. It was all so difficult sometimes, to understand, but Corvus had said he was young, still had a lot of learning to do, growing, but one day it would make complete sense to him. it was the fact he was trying to learn so much that it was giving him a headache trying to process it.

Rodolphus snorted, “I know the feeling,” he admitted wryly, smirking ruefully. “I hated those lessons, but I had to know…if I didn’t my estate could have been run to the ground. It was one of the most important things I did after I turned fifteen, that summer while busy…wasn’t a wasted one.”

“It only took you one summer?” Harry asked, turning his attention to Rodolphus, pouting, “It’s been more than three months for me.”

“Has it though? How many hours have you actually spent on learning the workings of your estate?” Rabastan asked with a pointed look.

Harry breathed out, “Maybe an hour each evening before I returned to Hogwarts then two hours after I got back.” Realizing perhaps he had it much easier than Rodolphus and Rabastan.

“It will help visiting the properties you have, which we will do sometime this year,” Corvus informed him, patting him sympathetically on the back. “Should the worst come to the worst, you need to demonstrate you are able to adequately take care of your estate, look after yourself and know your magical policies otherwise your emancipation could be denied.” Not that this was something they’d had to worry about, due to the betrothal contract…until now, damn Dumbledore and his machinations. He refused to let Dumbledore get his claws into Harry or his seats again. Even if it meant trying to get Black on their side. Which would be impossible, he knew.

Harry stiffened his spine, giving a grim nod, then that was what he would do, focus on the most important aspects that would see him emancipated even though he technically was, with Corvus acting as a guardian due to his age and the fact his ‘betrothed’ was in Azkaban. He had thought he was safe, he hated that it was being proven otherwise.

“The Dark Lord has returned.” It was a statement, not a question and Rodolphus grabbed himself a bar of Honeydukes finest chocolate and begun to slowly consume it.

“Here,” Harry said fishing in the box, and withdrawing two plates with a still warm meal. Having seen how much they enjoyed their Christmas meal, warm, he had decided to make them another one. It was a simple one though, roast chicken, carrots, peas and mashed potatoes.

“He has…” Corvus replied, before going on to explain how he had appeared at Malfoy Manor during the Yule festivities, still unimpressed by Narcissa’s behaviour.

-------0 Flashback 0------

“Did you retrieve it?” the Dark Lord asked as he entered the room Corvus and Harry were using, observing how…comfortable Potter was here in Lestrange manor. He wasn’t exactly surprised by that, judging by what he had seen and observed so far, he definitely looked to Corvus for protection. He wanted to know why.

“I did,” Corvus easily replied, removing the cup from his cloak and carefully handing it over to Tom. He could feel Tom’s magic contained within it, and something dark. It was easier to detect after being out of the manor. “Is there anything else I can do to help?” he wanted to know.

“Why is the Headmaster sending me anything?” Harry muttered mostly to himself, looking at the package with a suspicious frown.

“It’s already been checked over, it appears he isn’t stupid or desperate enough yet to send it with charms or hexes,” Corvus immediately informed the teen. He had read the missive as well, small as it may be. He had been tempted to throw it out, but if it did belong to the Potter’s then it may well be a family heirloom and these were always treated with the utmost respect.

“Why would my father gift Dumbledore with a cloak before he died?” Harry asked perplexed as he opened it, setting aside the book that came with it.

“That is not a mere cloak,” The Dark Lord informed him, seeing the shimmer, “I do believe that is the famed Potter invisibility cloak.” He had known Charles and Fleamont Potter, they’d used the thing frequently, and of course, he knew from reading Pettigrew’s memories that such a thing existed for definite. “The fact it’s gone to three generations without deteriorating means there is something…special about the magic imbued in this particular cloak.”

Corvus watched Tom interact with the boy, knowing he was curious about the boy, curiosity was good, very good in fact. Curiosity was better than murderous, and the fact the boy didn’t seem remotely bothered by the fact his parents killer, his attempted murderer was sitting there…was baffling even to him. Then again…Harry had been raised believing his parents had died in a car accident drunk driving…and that how he got the scar, it would take a long time for the reality to reorient itself surely? Either that or he was trusting him, with his life, that…meant more to Corvus than anything had in a long time. Merlin help him, as if he needed to be any fonder of the boy than he already was.

Harry slowly got out of the sofa and stood in front of the mirror before putting the cloak on. It was massive on him, but it did indeed turn him invisible. “Huh, cool,” was all he had to say, before carefully folding it back up and putting it on the sofa.

Corvus cleared his throat, giving Harry a pointed look.

“I mean it’s rather interesting,” Harry said, Corvus absolutely hated when he used ‘Plebeian’ terms as he’d once called it. Anything like Cool, wicked and he had to endure more elocution lessons when he slipped up. Which didn’t happen very often anymore, mostly when he was very surprised and they slipped out unthoughtfully. Seating himself carefully, he picked up the book wondering what else Dumbledore had sent to him.

Voldemort watched the scene a smirk slowly making its way across his features. His old friend seemed…in very fine spirits, but he had definitely aged since he saw him last, in ways ten years shouldn’t have. He could only imagine how Corvus had endured his sons being imprisoned in Azkaban. Comments like that revealed Potter’s Muggle upbringing, but it seemed as if Corvus was still trying to instil pureblood elocution into him. “How did you become Potter’s magical guardian?”

Corvus quietly explained the happenings of the past six months, the meeting he’d been called to, the desperation Harry had felt to get under Dumbledore and the Dursley’s thumbs. How he’d decided risking his own reputation by coming under the Lestrange name. The contract they had signed and all the nuances of what occurred afterwards. Including all the ‘bad luck’ that had befallen the Dursley’s since. It was clear that Harry was listening, even if he was looking through the book on his lap.

Voldemort didn’t ask if they were suffering, he knew they would be if Corvus had any say in it, and it looked as though he did. He knew his old friend well, he was as vindictive as him, and just as unapologetic.

“Dumbledore will not give up easily,” Voldemort warned, after listening to the conversation. “He’s invested too much time and effort on the boy.” He could see that and he had only spent four months in Dumbledore’s presence. “He’s very…vexed over the happenings, including Potter himself.”

“Even if I hadn’t known about him being my magical guardian…I wouldn’t have liked the familiarity in which he spoke to me.” Harry said, speaking concisely and calmly. “He tried to insinuate himself into my life, including calling me ‘my boy’ and it made me extremely uncomfortable.” Not as uncomfortable as Lucius Malfoy had made him feel but still uncomfortable nonetheless.

“You will never know that for sure,” Voldemort retorted calmly, “The knowing made you prejudice against him, opened your eyes to his true nature which otherwise you would have remained ignorant of.” Dumbledore was very good at getting his own way, and even he had to admit that even if it did disgust him to the core. “That and wearing that ring has afforded you more protection against his manipulations than you can fathom.”

“Except one,” Harry said bitterly, still vividly remembering the pain he’d endured despite his compelled state.

“Indeed,” Voldemort said, still speaking to them both through Quirrell, and he would do so until after the ritual was complete. It was draining for sure, but he wouldn’t need to worry about it afterwards. He would have his own body if all went according to plan. “You and I need to talk, Potter.”

“You mean about why you came after a year old baby?” Harry asked, staring Voldemort straight in the eye.

Corvus inhaled sharply, clearly surprised by Harry’s guile.

“And how is it you’re aware that I was after you specifically, Potter?” Voldemort asked, astonished by the way the boy was speaking to him. He didn’t think any other eleven-year-old who knew who he was would be able to open their mouths let alone actually speak to him in that manner. Glancing at Corvus wondering just how much Corvus had revealed to the eleven-year-old who probably didn’t have a single mind defence to string together.

“You told my mother to stand aside three times,” Harry said coolly, “That isn’t the actions of someone who had apparently went there to kill my parents.”

“The Dementors had a horrid affect on him when he was first exposed to them,” Corvus informed Voldemort, reeling over the fact Harry had actually seen scenes of that night, heard what happened. He had known Harry saw that night, but not to this extent, he should have enquired further.

-----0 End Flashback 0---------

“He said that to the Dark Lord?” croaked Rodolphus, eyes wider than saucers. “And he wasn’t cursed?” he’d seen wizards cursed for less, and that was without the lack of politeness being addressed.

“I believe the Dark Lord was impressed with his guile,” Corvus conceded, “It is a fair question from Harry’s point of view. And it did need discussed before they could go any farther.” And that was true enough.

“What is the cup? How did it return him to his full power?” Rodolphus asked, furious that they had the means to bring back the Dark Lord and were unable to do so. If only he had known…the Dark Lord would have returned the very same night he died.

“I do not know, and I do not think we will ever know,” Corvus explained calmly, watching his boys eat the sandwiches Harry brought. The meal had been quickly consumed while they’d listened to the first half of the tale. “All we will ever know is that the Dark Lord took steps to ensure his immortality and that is it.”

“Seems silly to me, knowing there was steps doesn’t help when they don’t know how to do it,” Harry pointed out, grinning as he withdrew butterbeer for them.

“Nobody would reveal the source of their immortality, It would make them vulnerable.” Corvus explained patiently, and the Dark Lord did not tolerate weaknesses or others knowing he had any.

“So you’re alright with your parents killer?” Rodolphus asked bluntly, giving Harry a penetrating look.

“We…came to an understanding,” Harry replied used to Rodolphus’ way by now, the wizard liked to be blunt almost to the point of rudeness sometimes. Only to try and get a reaction out of you, knowing it led to the truth rather than lies.

“Oh?” Rabastan asked, quirking a brow, almost jealous over the fact they’d seen the Dark Lord and he was stuck in here. “What exactly was said?”

Rodolphus and Rabastan both adopted intense looks as they gazed at Harry. Sharp and piercing, that would most definitely have made nearly everyone else squirm or you know, run in the opposite direction with just the reputation of the Lestrange name alone. Both of them were desperate for news, and this was the best news since they were reunited.

“Well, he told me why he came after me…” Harry begun.

------0 Flashback 0-----

“There was a prophecy created a year before your birth that proposed that there would be a boy born at the end of July that heralded the power to defeat me.” Voldemort explained blankly, refusing to feel guilty, with or without the prophecy he would have gone after the Potters, they had been thorns in his side. Although, he knew now he should have gone about it differently, his mind was clearer than it had been in a long time.

“A prophecy?” Harry asked incredulously, “A prediction? Okay… um,” Harry was blown away with the excuse.

“It was overheard in Hogshead by one of my Death Eaters who relayed what he heard back to me, unfortunately, he was caught before he could hear more than half. Leaving me with only one part of the prophecy, I still do not know it to this day.”

“Hogshead is a pub, that is owned by Albus Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth,” Corvus explained.

“And you’re sure it’s accurate?” Harry asked disbelievingly, “Not some drunk idiot?”

“It’s very accurate, I have seen the memory, her actions were exactly as they should be when one drops into a trance.” Voldemort explained, annoyed by the constant interruptions. “Her eyes glazed over, her voice became deep, and her body indications all were perfectly in order of what a trance is.”

“What did it say?” Harry asked, his mind whirling a mile a minute trying to think of something that just went entirely beyond him.

“The one with the power to vanquish the dark lord approaches, born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… this was as much as I heard, Trelawney, the current divination teacher…however, continued her prediction to Dumbledore,” Voldemort explained, face tightening considerably, the fact Harry had a…sceptical look on his face definitely didn’t make things any easier.

“So just because I had the power to vanquish you, you decided to go after me? Creating a self-fulfilling prophecy? As I’ve been reminded…vanquish doesn’t mean kill nor does defeat.” Harry grumbled, rubbing his forehead in exasperation. “Do you think Dumbledore knew we were related and set it all up? I mean did he make a habit of meeting up with his staff in a pub where he has a brother that hates his guts?”

Voldemort startled at that, “I…honestly do not know,” he conceded with a frown on his face. The thought of Dumbledore successfully manipulating him made red hot rage flow through him like lava. “You know about the stipulations that Salazar Slytherin put on his line?”

“Not the exact details, I tried to find information after Rodolphus and Bastian spoke about it but…” Harry conceded with a shrug of his shoulders, but went on to explain what little he had found out about certain families being prevented from killing each other off.

Corvus begun to understand why Harry wasn’t quite…as afraid as he ought to have been.

-----0 End Flashback 0-------

“You raise an interesting point,” Rodolphus agreed, absently clutching at his gift from Harry as he had taken to doing so quite often this week. Even when it was on and repelling the dementors, it had become a security blanket for him, it was freedom of a sorts in this hellhole that he’d never had before. “I can see Dumbledore arranging something like that, but if she did fall into a trance…”

“Then she was compelled,” Rabastan finished grimly, and it was obvious to all of them that Dumbledore wasn’t exactly against compelling whenever he felt like it. “Then all of this was for nothing,” now that infuriated him more than anyone could possibly fathom.

“Maybe, I don’t think Dumbledore seems to care for the fall out of his actions,” Harry said, a frown covering his features. “He just doesn’t care,” he was still angry over the fact he had been hurt so badly, just because Dumbledore wanted him to bend to his will.

“I have a wizengamot meeting tomorrow, a decision will be made on how long the Dementors will be allowed on the island. It will mean more guards on the island, I will try and get a few of my own people situated near this wing.” Corvus informed them, changing the subject, he didn’t want their Saturday marred with talk about Dumbledore. No more than it had to be anyway. It was annoying enough with Dumbledore’s trial being pushed back, it should have already happened but no, he’d received a letter informing him of the new set date for his trial.

“Rowle?” Rodolphus suggested, he had been friends with him in school, he was a supporter of the Dark Lord but hadn’t been marked. He would be quite perfect for the part.

“He’s already applied for the job, hasn’t heard back yet, but it’s not unnatural, they haven’t come back with a definitive number.” The ministry liked to drag its feet after all, especially when concerning new Legislation and Azkaban, not a good combination. However, this would give at least twenty to thirty new jobs to others desperately in need of one. Meanwhile it would aid those in Azkaban and let them reclaim their minds unless they were already lost to the madness permanently. Without constant food source, the Dementors would be easier controlled.

“I hope he gets it,” Rodolphus said, he was one of the few he actually really liked. He didn’t dare to hope though, not really, hope was one of the first things bled out of him in this place.

“What did he want from Harry?” Rabastan asked, getting back to the matter at hand, they only had an hour! He wanted to hear everything!

“He made a unbreakable Vow with Harry and I acted as a witness,” Corvus explained, he’d also informed Harry of what exactly would happen should the Vow be broken. If by broken by either party, imminent death would await the vow breaker. “He needed Harry’s blood, willingly donated, for the ritual,” which he believe the Dark Lord had switched gears upon realizing Harry was in fact his blood, both of them the last remaining heirs of Salazar Slytherin.

Rodolphus and Rabastan gaped, stunned to the core, giving blood was…so rarely done. Especially, willing, but they would bleed for their Lord, quite willingly too. It gave a power all of its own when blood was willing let for the recipient of the ritual.

-----0 Flashback 0------

“And that’s all you want? And I’ll be left alone?” Harry asked, seeking confirmation as he read over the terms of the Unbreakable Vow, having paled slightly upon hearing that he would die if it was broken but no less determined.

“Yes,” Voldemort confirmed, leaning back, sipping the whiskey that had been poured for him, finding himself amused by Harry’s incredulity. The Vow was only going to make sure Harry couldn’t meddle into his affairs, as they had already realized…trying to kill each other would only result in their own deaths.

“And my blood?” Harry asked, “Corvus?” seeking the wizard’s council.

“Shall we make it so that he has to destroy any remnants and swear only to use what he needs to in the ritual to return him to full power?” Corvus suggested, being impartial, he was Switzerland. Neutral. Yes, he wanted the Dark Lord back to his former glory, but he also knew that Harry had to be utterly willing, so would go to any and all means to ensure that it was done.

“What will it do to me?” Harry asked cautiously, practically reeking of anxiety.

“Absolutely nothing,” Voldemort and Corvus stated in sync.

“Then why is it banned?” Harry asked, “Blood rituals, if they’re not dangerous why are they banned?” he knew from Millicent Flint that blood magic was banned.

“If you asked the light side that question, they’d splutter and flounder, because the reality is…there is no answer they could adequately give.” Voldemort explained seriously, “They’ve been told it’s bad, evil, dark magic, but like all magic…it can protect as well as cause death.”

“Like Accio,” Harry said sounding subdued.

Voldemort arched a brow, wondering at that comparison.

“It could be used to summon something that’s hurtling towards someone but it can also be used to summon someone’s broom when they’re in the air and have them falling fifty feet to their death.” Harry explained his thinking behind that particular comment.

“That…is a very accurate description.” Voldemort agreed, impressed with the eleven-year-olds view of magic. It wasn’t normal, they usually believed everything they were told. The fact he had such an interesting view of magic itself, he wondered if it was Corvus’ doing. “In the past three decades more and more branches of magic have been banned or pushed out of Hogwarts all on Dumbledore’s say. I’m not saying he doesn’t have a point regarding some magic…but even as you say, spells you learn in your forth year can be dangerous as well.”

“Dumbledore was actually in the process of pushing out Divination that year, before she gave her ‘prediction’ and suddenly he ceased all attempts.” Corvus explained to both of them, something he had found out while digging into Dumbledore, trying to find something to protect the teen.

Voldemort scoffed, go figure, but regardless…he did wonder…about the rest of the prophecy…whether Dumbledore had indeed set it up knowing that he and Harry were related. As distant as it may be, they were both Slytherins and both snake speakers. “Are we in agreement?” speaking to the boy like he was an adult and having no inclination or desire to stop.

“We are,” Harry stated, standing up, Voldemort did the same thing, and both clasped hands, and Corvus stood with his wand out, ready to begin the Vow that would change everything.

Dumbledore had already lost, he just didn’t know it.

------0 End Flashback 0--------

“He asked about everyone in here, especially you boys, he expresses regrets that you let yourself be caught,” Corvus gave them a pointed look, both refused to repent. “He spoke of breaking everyone out but I suggest he hold off, I want you to be able to walk out of here free men.”

“Father,” Rodolphus said, gritting his teeth, “It’s a fools hope!” they were never going to walk out of here free men.

“It doesn’t matter anyway, Voldemort said he’d need time to rebuild before he can get anyone out. We’ve got two years before he will make a move. He wont allow you all to remain in here for any longer, he did stretch it knowing that the Dementors presence was going to be reduced.” Harry explained to them. “It will give everyone time to regain their senses before he storms Azkaban…especially knowing there would be more guards and their allegiances being unknown at that point is making him leery.” He didn’t want to kill those who he had the potential to convert to his side or those who actually support the dark side.

“So we have our timeline,” Corvus stated seriously, “We have two years to get you out as free men.” At the end of the day, he wanted his sons out of Azkaban. Even if it meant they spend the rest of their lives until things settle down under Tom’s reign as fugitives. It wouldn’t be forever, he hoped.

It killed him, seeing that this was what brought hope to his sons faces, that he hadn’t been able to put that there before. It was there though, that’s all that mattered, they were cognizant, hopeful, able to hold conversations and not anywhere near as half starved as they used to be, things were looking up for the Lestrange family.

“There’s a new Ancient Runes book out, it’s rather interesting,” Harry said, withdrawing the aforementioned book. “It’s really difficult though, you should see some of the Runes in it…”

“That might be because it’s for someone trying to gain a Mastery in the subject,” Corvus said wryly, watching his son and Harry interact. And as usual, when the pair of them got talking Ancient Runes…everything else was forgotten as Rabastan begun to teach Harry the what, how and when’s of rune crafting. He had received an Outstanding in his N.E.W.T’s actually, and wouldn’t have been all that surprised If Rabastan had desired the thought of becoming a Runes Master.

“You’d make a good teacher,” Harry said eventually, it wasn’t the first time he’d said it actually. “Have you thought about taking a Mastery in the subject?”

“How am I going to do that locked in here?” Rabastan said dryly, barely refraining from rolling his eyes.

“Isn’t there a way? I mean everything written and theoretical can be handed to me and I can owl it off…I can look up what’s required in a Runes Mastery, you could maybe become a Runes Master even in here,” Harry suggested, his mind mulling over that information.

“Is that something you’d like?” Corvus asked, seeing his sons eye light up like a damn Yule tree, it was clearly something he desired. “As far as I know Aramis Carrow is a Runes Master, I can talk to him on your behalf?” he spent a lot of his time in France though, he had never been close to his children, the twins, who had primarily been raised by their mother.

Rabastan gave a thoughtful curt nod, none of his earlier jubilant excitement showing.

“The Human Rights act made it so that prisoners can learn new skills so when they leave prison they have job prospects. A way to earn money, if the Muggle and magical law were in sync…something would already be in place.” Harry said solemnly, shaking his head.

Harry looked and sounded so much older than his eleven years of age.

Banging on the door caused them all to jump in surprise and fright, not that they would admit that of course. It wasn’t proper to be caught unawares, especially for a pureblood, and especially in such a bleak setting.

“I guess we’re out of time,” Harry sighed, they hadn’t even gotten a chance to read over the most interesting parts of the book. “Bring it with you next time if you can…” Harry said reluctantly standing up.

Corvus hugged both of his sons tightly, excitement and happiness bubbling up inside of him. “You’ll get out of here,” Corvus finally croaked, it didn’t really matter if it was illegally, they would get out of Azkaban. After fearing for a decade that they’d die in here…it was a sweet relief to know they wouldn’t be.

Getting himself under control, Corvus cleared his throat, “Well, if you’ll excuse me I have a Dragon to deal with that’s going to be in the grounds for the foreseeable future,” he explained, as the guards opened the door.

“Dragon?!” came the strangled sounds of Rabastan and Rodolphus staring at their father in shock.

Corvus simply made his way out, but Harry? Harry gave both of them a sly wicked grin before joining Corvus in leaving. Making it clear that Harry most definitely had something to do with this apparent ‘dragon’ ending up in Lestrange Manor.

Thankfully the guards simply believed they were conversing over the Dragon that had ended up disappearing from Gringotts and didn’t so much as react.

 

---------0

A/N – So, is this okay or should I really just have the conversation with the Dark Lord a full conversation and have the Azkaban visit a separate one? I don't mind either way, it would be easily changed and stretched out to fit! I don't like Flashback's much myself so I think I'm going to try and do less of them! AND in case nobody noticed, Dumbledore's trial was MOVED from its set date – I had Corvus thinking about it – to a new one, because I honestly forgot that his trial would have happened in between the conversation with Voldemort and the next time the guys would be visiting so it made it a bit tricky! I definitely wasn't going to have the trial talked over at the same time as them talking about Voldemort scenes! Probably end up with two chapters if you want to see proper conversations I think then of course the trial for Dumbledore…so R&R please!

Chapter Text

The Contract

Chapter 24

Corvus sat back feeling rather smug, so far, today was going splendidly, and with Dumbledore’s trial looming it looked to be one of his favourite days by far. A vote had just been taken for the amount of hours that the Dementors were allowed in Azkaban. Five hours were the allotted time they were allowed on the island. Doge had been frothing at the mouth over the agreement. Fortunately, for Corvus, he had the law on his side, they logically couldn’t allow it to be any longer without breaking their own laws. Two and a half hours in the morning and two and a half hours in evening, the guards were looking to be set up and within the next fortnight they’ll have signed the contracts and begin working before the end of the month. It was done, all he had to do now was begin the next phase of his plan, while he waited for a suitable opening to get a trial sorted for his sons.

He had to admit, he was surprised by the fact the Wizengamot wasn’t dragging his feet where this was concerned. He’d suspected it would take months longer before it was put into action. Yet, no, it was as if the laws they’d read had lit their collective asses on fire and they were determined to get it done as soon as humanly possible. Not that he minded, he was grateful they weren’t dragging their feet.

Who would have thought the law would be the very thing that would see his sons gaining freedom?

“You’re very pleased with yourself,” Lucius said smoothly, smirking a little as he stood before Corvus in the dining hall, Corvus was drinking coffee, killing time as they waited for Dumbledore’s trial. There was just little to no point to leaving, not for all of fifteen minutes it was going to take for it to be set up.

“I am,” Corvus agreed, inclining his head just so, giving Lucius permission to sit with him. “How is your family?” he asked, more automatically – a habit of a lifetime – than any real care to know.

“Narcissa is enjoying what time she has left with Draco before he returns to school,” Lucius said smoothly, as he joined him, pouring some sugar into his coffee, giving it a stir before adding some milk. “Draco is rather looking forward to returning to Hogwarts. He enjoys spending time with Harry. I’m told Harry is getting better at chess?”

Corvus hummed, “Indeed, he hadn’t played before I introduced the game to him.” it was a difficult game to learn, but Harry had taken to it well enough, but he was nowhere near expert level, that would take a few years, it helped that he had the smarts to think ahead. He hadn’t allowed Harry to win a game against him, no that is something he’d have to earn. He did not believe in pandering to children, and making them think they were greater than they were, especially against games that could make them want to be better. Not even his sons had bet him until they were at least seventeen, well-earned wins they were too.

“Muggles,” Lucius sneered, what did they do all day if they didn’t educate their children? It was barbaric, they didn’t even teach them something as intricate as chess? It was distasteful. “Thank Merlin you got the boy when you did,” to think he would have been a disgrace to wizards.

Corvus barely refrained from rolling his eyes, Lucius knew very well that he hadn’t ‘got the boy’ as it were. Harry had come to him, set everything in motion to get out of Dumbledore and the Dursley’s hold. Evidently Lucius wished to believe that the boy was easily duped or led astray. “I do hope that Narcissa will never act that way in front of Harry, again…are we clear?” not having to verbalised what would happen, all it required was a look, and Lucius paled a little, swallowing thickly, clearly catching the hint.

“She’s merely…a little jealous,” Lucius confessed, “Not only is Harry the most legible to get the Black Lordship…but Draco talks and writes about him almost constantly. She’s not used to being…second best to anyone. I do believe Draco had found a rare and genuine friendship with the boy.” Out of everyone, of course, it would be Harry Potter. At least however, he was eased somewhat, due to the fact that the Dark Lord knew. Knew and seemingly did not mind the boy the slightest. Which blew his mind, but he wasn’t about to rock that particular boat. The Dark Lord was pleased he had kept his diary and in optimal condition too.

Corvus barely refrained from snorting, it was hardly surprising that the boy had taken to Harry so well. From what Harry wrote, he didn’t put up with Draco’s shenanigans, his constant need to put others down by mentioning his father and his superior attitude. Harry was bringing Draco down to their – the students – level, and it was allowing Draco to bond more with his classmates. Making them less weary of upsetting him, making him seem more like the eleven-year-olds that they were.

“Is he returning to Hogwarts?” Lucius enquired, expecting the answer to be ‘yes’ but asking nonetheless. Refraining from using Harry’s name too much, there weren’t many ‘Harry’s’ they could be discussing. Drinking absently, as he waited for an answer, they had time to kill anyway.

“That all depends on the outcome of this trial,” Corvus said easily enough, and it was the truth. He wasn’t sure about sending Harry back when it was clear Dumbledore was going to great lengths to keep Harry in Hogwarts. He couldn’t stop Harry attending Hogwarts, he would be there at least until he finished his O.W.L’s and then his N.E.W.T’s if he wished to take them.

“It will go in our favour,” Lucius said self-assured, “Antonio will bring Dumbledore down.” he was the best of the best, it’s why everyone used him, definitely number one go to lawyer for everyone in trouble. He’d used him himself a few times as a matter of fact.

“He will,” Corvus agreed, Antonio was furious over Dumbledore’s actions and inactions when it came to Harry Potter. Even more so when he learned what had been happening since September. He was going to do everything he could to see that Dumbledore was given the greatest sentence he could, given that he was well liked, and jail time seemed very unlikely, and if he did receive a sentence it would likely only be a few months. Some might consider what they were about to do as underhanded but he honestly didn’t care, he wanted Dumbledore out of the picture and would go to any and all means to accomplish that goal. This trial would have already been held if it wasn’t for that blasted idiotic wizard deciding to pissed off at a Muggle and use magic in front of them. Which he was paying for, the trial had been held and he’d been put in Azkaban for five months and the muggles obliviated of what they’d seen. “And speaking of the Black Lordship, Harry is already making a move to claim it.”

Lucius narrowed his eyes speculatively, “Why now?” realizing something must have happened, otherwise why only begin going through the process now? He could have taken the Black Lordship months ago, and there was no suggesting that Harry didn’t know about it.

Corvus waved his wand, encasing them both in a silencing bubble so they could speak freely. “Dumbledore is making moves to release Sirius Black from Azkaban.” He informed Lucius a tinge of bitterness in his voice.

Lucius arched a brow, “And what will that succeed in doing?” bewildered by what he’d just heard. Sirius Black was imprisoned for life, he had not only betrayed the Potters but killed thirteen Muggles in an attempt to flee the Aurors.

Corvus sighed, “There is…a belief that he is innocent,” he informed Lucius with a grimace. “Given how…Dumbledore is acting I believe he may have always known of Black’s innocence and done nothing in order to retain magical custody of Harry and of course the seats he so enjoyed as it had gained him more power.”

“Without that power he’s suddenly finding that if he releases Black he could regain it all as well as the Black seats.” Lucius deduced, eyes flashing furiously, disgust coursing through him, and the public called them evil? They weren’t keeping innocent people in Azkaban in order to keep power! Harry wouldn’t have a say in any of it, Black would have control of everything and Dumbledore would easily control both due to that. It was deviously atrocious and sick.

“Exactly,” Corvus replied, his mouth curled up into a sneer.

“Isn’t Harry legally emancipated?” Lucius asked smoothly, finishing his coffee.

“Not until the contract is complete or run its course,” Corvus explained, legally speaking, he would only become legally emancipated when he was fourteen nearly fifteen-years-old. By then he would become Lord Black-Potter and legally emancipated and there was nothing anyone could do after that. It’s why as Lord of the Lestrange family he was able to take Harry in and look after him, it was his duty due to the fact Harry’s ‘Betrothed’ couldn’t take care of him.

“I see,” Lucius replied smoothly, “I assume you don’t intend to come forward as Harry’s family through the Betrothed?” knowing it wouldn’t do anything other than cause more trouble for both of them actually.

“I may have to,” Corvus revealed surprising Lucius, he did not want to lose Harry to the light side when he’d made it clear he wanted nothing to do with the war. He would not let Dumbledore try to reel Harry back in, Corvus suspected even if Harry told Dumbledore about the Vow – that had been made to the Dark Lord – that he would continue his attempts and kill Harry in the process.

“Black will be in no condition to take a child in, not right away, which leaves an opportunity for adoption.” Lucius pointed out, “Narcissa is related to Harry, however, distantly, and you know as well as I do the old pureblood’s value family against all else. It would be quite easy for her to put forth a petition if worst comes to the worst?” putting a child in a stable home with his son, who Harry already got along with was much easier than giving him to a wizard who was unstable and had spent a decade in Azkaban after all.

“Even if only in legality, and Harry could continue to think of Lestrange Manor as home.” He added absently, he owed Corvus for covering for him with the Dark Lord.

“Perhaps,” Corvus mused thoughtfully, it would certainly be a good use of a backup plan if things looked to be worrisome. Only as a last resort, he was grateful to Lucius for even suggesting it.

“The offer is open and on the table should you wish to take it,” Lucius replied, “Now, it looks as though we’re out of time. I assume I’ll see you in the court room?” a teasing lit to his voice as he smirked, nothing short of a stamped would keep Corvus from this trial.

Corvus glanced at the time in surprise, a frown appearing on his features, Antonio was supposed to be here. They had agreed to meet in the cafeteria before the trial just to go over last minute information. He did not normally run late, but there was always a first, “Indeed,” he murmured, a little bit distracted.

Giving a nod, Lucius broke the silencing barrier and swiftly made his way down to the courtroom.

He did not see Corvus again until all parties had been sworn in, and it most definitely wasn’t Antonio Abbott who was overseeing the trial. Something was going on, and judging by the look on Corvus’ face it was not planned.

Lucius arched an eyebrow silently asking what was going on.

Corvus’ mouth flattened into a line, nostrils flaring in anger as he shook his head once. Lucius shifted so that Corvus could stand beside him, glancing once more at the wizard wondering if he even suspected what was going on.

“I cannot get in touch with him, and his family insisted he had already left for the trial,” Corvus gritted out, fearing that Dumbledore had done something. He would definitely fear going up against Antonio Abbott, who was well known, well respected and able to get his clients what they wanted.

“All parties have been sworn in, please be seated,” came Ogden’s voice. It was a private trial, there wasn’t a single journalist in the seats or anyone not currently affiliated with the ministry or more accurately the wizengamot. Closed session. The scribe was the only one who actually wasn’t a member of the wizengamot but he was unable to inform anyone of anything due to the oaths he had taken.

“Albus Dumbledore you’re here due to dereliction of duties, how do you plead?” there was no need to rehash the information since it had literally just been relayed to them all just before they were sworn in.

Albus sighed dramatically, twinkle leaving his eyes and his body sagged, shame and unhappiness clearly portrayed, “I understand why this has to happen, I was…regretfully neglectful of my duties, and will adhere to whatever punishment you see fit to bestow upon me, but please forgive an old man’s mistakes,”

Corvus gritted his teeth, loathing the fact that more than half the people in the room were already lapping up Dumbledore’s display. Where on earth was Antonio? There was no way he would miss this, not for anything in the world.

“A simple guilty or not guilty will do, Mr. Dumbledore,” came the retort of the lawyer used to replace Antonio due to his absence.

“Guilty,” Albus murmured, staring at the floor looking thoroughly ashamed of himself.

He was barely refraining from glancing up to see how his reactions were affecting the rest of the wizengamot. A lot was resting on their reactions and judgements, he could barely believe he was being called before the wizengamot on charges of dereliction of duty. Which he was, he honestly didn’t care about these Muggle laws that were passing, to make life easier for prisoners! It was at the height of idiocy, he might preach ‘second chances’ but only for those who were useful to him, these were the only people he would fight for.

Corvus inwardly seethed over this twist, he hadn’t expected Dumbledore to plead guilty. Perhaps Antonio wouldn’t have had the opportunity to question Dumbledore anyway. With him pleading guilty, everyone now only had to come up with a ‘a punishment that fit the crime’ given that most of the wizengamot members were fond of Dumbledore…and without the knowledge of everything he’d done coming out especially regarding what he’d done to Harry…well, it wasn’t going to make them question their own judgement. He couldn’t reveal it either, not without raising questions he definitely didn’t want to answer at the moment.

Dumbledore was swiftly led out of the room escorted by two guards, leaving the rest of the wizengamot – that was sitting around the round table – to debate on the punishment Dumbledore should suffer.

“He’s obviously feeling bad about his lapse, I say we let him go with a warning,” Doge was the first to comment, the moment the doors closed.

“That might not be the best of ideas,” Fudge said quietly and calmly, “The rumours that have reached me…especially regarding what’s been happening at Hogwarts as of late…well, it’s deeply concerning.”

Corvus blinked in disbelief, Fudge was the last person he’d expected to say such things. He glanced over to Lucius and a few others, noticing that they had subtle smug countenances that screamed they’d planned this.

“Exactly what do you mean?” Amelia Bones questioned Fudge intently, her niece was attending Hogwarts. “My niece has given no grievances over any such occurrences…” and she believed her niece would tell her everything. They were very close, she had raised her since she was a baby after all.

“Apparently there is talk of a Troll getting in during Halloween, and a Muggle-born girl being in the infirmary, the girl by all accounts is still there recovering from the attack!” Cornelius cried out, “If this had been one of the heirs of our pureblood families…well…the outcry would have been massive!”

“A Troll?” Amelia scoffed at the idea, “Why would it come to Hogwarts and how on earth would it get passed the wards?” not believing it in the slightest. It was just silly rumours that was it.

“That did come to pass,” Lucius said smoothly, “My son wrote to me regarding the strangeness of the Halloween feast. Informed me that it was interrupted by one of the professors, Professor Quirrell I believe, who ran so quickly to get to the students that he passed out after giving his concerns to the Headmaster. I heard nothing of anyone being hurt. However, unless it was a fellow Slytherin, Draco wouldn’t have written his concern to his mother.”

Amelia blinked at Lucius, clearly taken aback by the announcement. “If such an incident did occur…then the Headmaster was legally obligated to inform the governors and the Ministry immediately.” Such an incident has to be investigated, to ensure that it did not happen again. As they say, if it had been a pureblood…well hell would have been raised regarding the incident.

“Is his Chief warlock job not the only one he has been negligent regarding?” Lord Nott stated sharply, “If this incident is not investigated…I shall not have my son remaining at Hogwarts school.”

“I quite agree, Narcissa doesn’t wish to see Draco attending Durmstrang, but if such instances continue I do not believe she will see a problem with him being sent elsewhere.” Lucius agreed, “We aren’t the only one concerned.”

Fudge straightened up at that, if the pureblood’s begun pulling out their offspring…they wouldn’t be able to afford to keep Hogwarts open and the staff paid long term thinking wise. Within a decade the funding would have dried up considerably. They were the only ones who could afford the full tuition, the Muggle-borns paid up the tuition and a great deal many were given scholarship funds so that their children could attend.

More alarmingly he could see swift agreement making its way around those who had children or grandchildren – which was most of them – at Hogwarts at the moment. The children were the future, and they would never allow any harm to befall them. If it was true that a Troll got in and harmed a student…it could have happened to any of their offspring and it didn’t sit well with any of them at all.

“I believe it might be conducive if the governors took a greater role in overseeing Hogwarts…instead of allowing Dumbledore to have his way. It seems to me that he might be going…a little senile in old age.” Lord Flint suggested, eyes glinting darkly, his son was attending Hogwarts. How bad was Hogwarts truly that his son didn’t see how unnatural and unusual it was for a Troll to just stroll in? No, Marcus would have informed him, the fact he did not…well, it didn’t bode well.

“Poppycock! He’s just fine!” Doge growled out, defensively. “He possess all his faculties, nothing is impaired!” furious with those who would dare to besmirch Albus in such a manner. Especially after all he had done for the magical world, ignorant and ungrateful he felt they all were.

“A Troll got loose in the school and he did not inform us!” came the response from multiple people.

“Something evidently isn’t quite right!”

“I’m sure he sorted the problem!” Doge argued right back, “There was no need to involve us in this!”

“As enlightening as all this is,” Bones called out, speaking over the hubbub, “This isn’t why Dumbledore had been brought before us. We are here to judge one thing and only one thing, his lack of attention when it came to his Wizengamot duties.” As always fair to the extreme.

“Something must be done, regardless,” came the smooth voice of Lucius, who as always would do all he could to undermine Dumbledore.

Agreement sprung around, they clearly weren’t in the mood to forget what they had just learned.

“Then bring it up during the next wizengamot meeting or call an emergency one,” Bones said calmly, “Now I think we can all agree that Dumbledore did neglect his duties. He has pled guilty, and understands what he’s done wrong…now what comes next?” getting everyone back on track.

“Get let off with a warning,” Doge insisted immediately.

“It’s not as if it can happen again,” Dowager Longbottom pointed out, a thoughtful look on her elder face. “He is not the lead wizengamot anymore.” Pondering on whether he had been forced to step down.

“For now,” Doge insisted, he was sure Albus would be reclaiming his status soon enough.

Corvus stiffened hearing those words, eyes narrowing in contemplation. Wondering if Doge actually knew what Dumbledore was up to…or if as always, Dumbledore kept his cards close to his chest. Dumbledore didn’t trust anyone, not even his ‘spy’ of that he was one hundred percent sure. Severus hardly had any information to share, didn’t know Dumbledore’s plans for Harry. Not that he was needed, since they’d already figured out Dumbledore’s next play.

Sirius Black.

They had an appointment for Gringotts later this evening, Harry had agreed to claim the Black vaults, become Black heir until he was fifteen before claiming it’s Lordship, much like he was doing with his own. The Potter Lordship. He would have no problem claiming it, since he was next in line, nobody could contest it, not unless Regulus had a child they didn’t know about, which was extremely unlikely.

They needed to do everything they could to prevent Dumbledore from succeeding.

“If it had been anyone else they would be in prison!” those words brought Corvus out of his thoughts.

“If he is not going to be given a sentence, may I suggest that he be put on probation and have someone help oversee Hogwarts just to ensure he has not ran the school to the ground? Like he has with his other jobs?” Merlin knows the mess he made of his position in the ICW.

“This is doable, but he should be fined heavily, this way he will remember actions have consequences.” Dowager Longbottom suggested, much to everyone’s surprise, while she wasn’t exactly a follower of Dumbledore…they did agree with pretty much everything together when they were voting on laws and such. The truth was, Dowager Longbottom had not trusted Dumbledore since her son joined the order and this ‘prophecy’ came to light, a bit too convenient for her liking especially since the war had been taking a darker turn, the other side had been winning. It was that damn prophecy that had put a target on her son and daughter-in-law’s backs. “I will most definitely be calling an emergency meeting regarding getting someone into Hogwarts and overseeing things.” Her grandchild was there, her only grandchild, the heir to the Longbottom estate and one day Lord Longbottom. If anything happened to him, that would be it, the Longbottom name would perish, and she shuddered at the mere thought, no, the idea that it might come to pass terrified her to the core. She might not be a Longbottom by birth, but she was by marriage and had been since she was seventeen-years-old, and their ways had been long since instilled in her.

“Augusta!” Doge cried out, gaping at the woman, shocked by her words.

Then again, most people failed to realise just how much she actually detested Dumbledore. She wasn’t one for displaying her emotions after all, and went with what she agreed regarding laws and regulations, if they just happened to line up with Dumbledore’s well, that was hardly her proclaiming loyalty to the old man now was it? Regardless of what Dumbledore or her fellow Wizengamot members thought.

“I agree with that,” Lord Nott stated firmly, regardless of his feelings for Longbottom, or the fact she tried to squash their ways of life. He knew Dumbledore wasn’t going to get any worse than a large fine. Everyone knew, those on the dark faction were seething but nonetheless it changed nothing.

Corvus grumbled under his breath, furious over this latest failure. Once again, Dumbledore was going to get off Scots free. Damn him, he should be used to Dumbledore’s wily ways, and he was he supposed, didn’t stop the anger from surfacing upon realizing what was going on. His concern for Antonio was beginning to brew as well, what had Dumbledore done to him? He prayed it was something simple as sending him to the wrong room, different time, and nothing…permanent. He wouldn’t put anything past Dumbledore.

The arguments continued for a full half an hour before anything resembling a compromise was reached. Mostly between the Dumbledore lovers and Dumbledore haters. They were seeing this as a means to make Dumbledore pay in any way they could. Yes, they were extremely disappointed they couldn’t see him thrown in Azkaban, but nonetheless eager to see him pay. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Lucius or Corvus leading the opposition – which they didn’t do, knowing it would just make it worse much to their consternation, but both had planted the right seeds for later – it was Lord Flint, he seemed to have an unusually odd hard-hatred for Dumbledore right now.

Of course, his daughter couldn’t give him specifics but Corvus would bet his vast fortune she’d found a way to reveal something. That was Slytherin’s for you though, smart and able to worm their way around even the best thought out contract. Plus, his son, Marcus, was probably telling him everything as well, and his decree of putting Harry off limits to them, well, it would be easy to join the dots.

“Very well, raise your wand if you agree to this compromise?” the Chief Warlock said, still getting used to his new role. Trying to separate himself from Dumbledore, doing things his own way and not being a carbon copy of Dumbledore…who seemed to be going through a rather…muddy spot at the moment. It wasn’t the first time, probably wouldn’t be the last either.

It was clear to see half the room was reluctant just to give him a large fine and a warning. They wanted him to suffer more for his negligence, in fact Madam Bones detected new haters for Dumbledore, and it was a real deep seated one too. What did they know? What could Dumbledore have done? Was this related to the Troll incident? Was there more she didn’t know? She needed to talk to her niece and get more information, immediately. Hopefully she could figure out what was causing Flint, who had been wholly impartial towards Dumbledore for the past decade…to suddenly wanting to see him taken down? Eventually, they raised their wand’s defeat just one of the many countenances on their faces.

“Bring him back in,” Chief Warlock Ogden demanded, sitting up straighter his lips pursed. Personally? He didn’t have anything against Dumbledore, but the more he dug into the new laws and legislation that the Muggles have passed this past decade the more he wondered if Dumbledore had not just been negligent but wholly and purposefully avoiding bringing them to their attention. He wasn’t even a quarter of the way through, and he knew, he just knew there was more. His new job should have been a smooth switch over, but it wasn’t, he was having to take his work home with him in order to oversee everything they missed. He wondered if he could take the goblins up on their offer…as Lord Lestrange had suggested…it would give him more time to perform his other duties.

----0

“They’re expecting you,” The Auror stated as they entered the side room which Dumbledore was sitting in, guarded to prevent any escapes. Not that Dumbledore would, he was much too good for that. It wasn’t as if he was accused of murder or anything so the security wasn’t as tight as it ought to have been.

“Of course,” Albus said sombrely, his usual cheerful façade nowhere to be seen. It would have been inappropriate to be cheerful after all, he was pulling off an ashamed character at the moment. He could scarcely believe what had been happening these past months. Things were supposed to go according to plan, but it had all fallen apart, and now he had no control over the Ministry, Harry Potter and worse of all? Voldemort had returned, he still hadn’t called anyone to him, he mustn’t be powerful enough to risk it.

He allowed them to guide him back to the courtroom, which really wasn’t one, it was more of a debate chamber, that they used to decide upon the punishment that fitted crimes. He hadn’t actually been put into a courtroom, not one they used as a courtroom at any rate. Hunching his shoulders, trying to look as pathetic and downtrodden as possible. His heart was pounding erratically. He honestly had no idea how it could go in there, friends or not, they were all sworn to uphold the law, and he had even if ‘accidentally’ been hindering that. He loathed the fact he was walking into a situation where he didn’t know the outcome. The dark and neutral parties…they outnumbered those he knew for certain that would never see anything happen to him. They were too enamoured with the persona he portrayed to the world.

Sitting down, he gazed at the wizengamot members, with soulful eyes, hiding his calculating watchfulness. His heart began to sink, too many grim faces, how did he crawl out of this hole? He had no doubt the press would have a field day…how did he get people on his side? What could he say? What could he do? His mind continued to reel over possible scenarios. First, though, he had to find out the damage here before he could begin elsewhere. He prayed it wasn’t a prison sentence…for that would…break him. He was powerful, the Dementors would be drawn to that, and with his memories…yes, he would break and the thought terrified him. No, he’d never end up in Azkaban, he’d rather die first.

“Albus Dumbledore you pled guilty of neglection of duties, you are now here to hear your sentencing, do you understand?” Ogden called out his tone grim.

“I do,” Albus said softly, “I understand that you have to do this, it’s the…”

“Silence,” Ogden called out, they were not allowed to blab excuses or talk after giving their declaration, doing so just irritated everyone that the law was being broken further.

Dumbledore just slouched farther, glancing at the floor in shame, clearly feeling bad that he had neglected his duties.

“You will pay a fine of 41480 Galleons 12 Sickles 12 Knuts to be paid by the end of the week made payable to the Ministry of Magic. Should you not pay the fine on time, you will be sentenced to Azkaban for non-payment. Your reckless disregard of your duties is a serious breach of protocol and should never have happened. We may well have to compensate numerous people due to your actions!” Ogden declared seriously.

Dumbledore’s eyes bugged out at the amount they expected of him for the fine. By Merlin, where was he going to find that kind of money in a week? What he had squared away wouldn’t cover that. To add to that he had a war coming on his doorstep, without money he couldn’t do a damn thing. Reeling in shock he stared at them all, with probably what was the most genuine expression they’d ever seen him with.

Everyone just stared back at him with blank faces, except for Doge who looked defeated and saddened.

“A w-week?” Dumbledore stuttered, unable to help himself, “Surely it can be…extended?” he definitely wasn’t going to Azkaban, so he would do all he could to ensure it was paid but if he could have it extended then he’d do it. “Not everyone has unlimited funds,” he added with a little scolding in his tone.

It was a quarter of a million pounds, surely they would take pity.

“One week.” Ogden declared strongly, knowing if he caved Dumbledore wouldn’t learn anything. Then the others would see him as weak, and he wouldn’t last as chief warlock, the law was the law.

“Very well,” Dumbledore replied, drawing his cloak around him like a security blanket his own face becoming inscrutable. Staring at them all in blatant disappointment, wondering how they could live with themselves.

“You are free to leave, I call this meeting to an end!” Ogden stated, deciding to make an appointment with the goblins. He would use them to get things up to date, he made a mental note to thank Lord Lestrange for the idea, otherwise he knew, he knew he would be at this for months, ten or eleven months in total getting this mess straightened up. He couldn’t do that, not between the rest of his duties and he was only human, he needed to sleep.

Albus stood straight away, spine straight and stiff, refusing to let them see how off kilter he actually was with what had happened. He hadn’t expected this, not at all, he needed to get the funds as quickly as possible.

“May I have word, Minister?” came the voice of Lucius Malfoy which slowed Albus down as he walked at a slower pace without being obvious.

“Of course, but I do have a…”

“It won’t take up much of your time,” Lucius said politely.

“I have a meeting with the new Lord Slytherin… in five minutes, perhaps during lunch…”

“Excuse me?” Lucius rasped, clearly taken aback by the statement, “I mean, very well,” he added hastily, “I shall see you then,” and with that Lucius turned and made a show of walking swiftly, leaving Dumbledore unaware that this had been carefully planned by more than one party.

Dumbledore froze, not listening to anything farther. No, no, no, this wasn’t happening, this couldn’t be happening. He was having a meeting with Cornelius Fudge? His stomach dropped farther than it already had with this meeting. Hastily, Albus quickly made his way out of the Ministry of magic, using the Floo Networks at the Atrium to get back to Hogwarts post haste.

Flicking out his wand, producing a Patronus, “Severus I need to see you immediately!” with that he let the Patronus sail out, there was no worry of anyone overhearing it. Severus avoided the great hall when he could. He was also in his potions lab, he knew every time the Potions Master left the grounds and where he went. He trusted him, but only so far, but if he wasn’t trusted by the dark sect then there was absolutely no use to him.

What was Voldemort up to? What was he doing at the Ministry? Dumbledore growled under his breath, added with the money he needed to come up with…he felt as though he was liable to break under the stress of these past few months.

No, he would have things sorted, he’d pay the damn fine, and get the information he needed. Sirius Black would be released, he’d get custody of the brat, find out his damn betrothed, whoever it was would have an unfortunate accident and he’d begin training the boy to be who he was meant to be. Get Black to give him custody in the event of anything happening and if Black ever became…an irritant then he too would have an unfortunate accident.

“You needed to see me?” Severus asked, as he made his appearance through the Floo, with an annoyed look plastered across his face.

“Has Voldemort called you?” Dumbledore demanded, he’d been distracted, he could have missed a single ping indicating that Snape had left Hogwarts and returned. He’d been a mess lately, and it was intolerable, he would no longer allow it. Voldemort would not win, he would regain control. Starting now.

Severus flinched at the pain that throbbed through the mark when Dumbledore used that name. Merlin, every single time, every time he did it, he knew the pain it caused, the nerve ending agony yet he continued to do so. would it be difficult just in his presence to call him something else? Something that didn’t cause the mark to flare up? Didn’t cause his arm to ache for hours afterwards? Especially while he was in the midst of brewing potions for the Hospital wing? With Christmas just passed and the colder weather, Poppy was going through Pepper-Up draughts like they were sweets. “No, the mark has steadily gained its power but that is the only indication I have that the Dark Lord has possibly returned.”

“You go immediately if called, regardless of anything else,” Dumbledore demanded, pursed lips, Merlin, that had been a waste of his time. “You may go.” he added, his mind mulling over the ways to get money, he didn’t want to get a loan, no way, he would need to get Fawkes to cry tears, that would bring in a considerable amount…if he was willing. Such a tenacious creature, and a few of his books would add a considerable sum…he couldn’t take more than five hundred galleons from the Hogwarts funds…but he’d just done that so that was out of the question.

Albus sat down in his chair, his mind continuing to mull over everything he’d need to do in order to pay off the fine. The money, Merlin help him, it was going to leave him without two Knuts to rub together. With a war on the horizon it was not good, he pondered on whether he could get Sirius the Black fortune, as the last one surely he could get the money? Perhaps he could get a few laws passed, using Doge of course…humming thoughtfully, he winced at the thought of losing his precious books, but frankly he’d rather that than ending up in Azkaban.

He didn’t even pay attention to Severus, who had remained for a few more minutes before leaving. A curious look on his usually blank face, as he observed Dumbledore, who was actually displaying the worry and fears he was feeling at this exact moment.

Severus had never seen Dumbledore display anything other than what he wanted others to see.

He was definitely losing it.

------0

Corvus was relieved to be back home, even if it was only for a few moments. Feeling through the wards for where Harry was situated. He wasn’t surprised to find him in the sitting room, wrapped in a blanket next to the fireplace with a book in hand. “Have you taken your potions?” he queried, as he sat next to the boy. Without so much as a hello, but they’d spent the morning together so it wasn’t as if he was committing a social faux pas.

“Of course,” Harry said softly, marking the book, “How did it go?” eager for information, green eyes gleaming with the desire for knowledge. “Oh, that bad?” he added, giving a soft sympathetic smile.

Corvus startled at the words, bewildered as to how on earth Harry could read him so easily or at all. “Excuse me?”

“You’re mad,” Harry pointed out, brow furrowed, “Your hands are clenching and unclenching, your face is grim, your body is broadcasting unhappiness or maybe annoyance.” He hadn’t survived the Dursley’s by being unobservant.

Corvus automatically looked at his hands, and found to his consternation that Harry was quite correct. He must be broadcasting a lot for Harry to read him so easily. The fact Harry didn’t react even to his anger with fear or worry led to the realisation just how much the boy trusted him. It warmed him considerably, and enabled him to relax and unwind after a long torturous hour of dealing with Dumbledore.

“Have you did your exercises?” Corvus asked, getting the important things out of the way before he revealed anything about Dumbledore. There was no need to rush, they weren’t due at the bank for another twenty minutes.

“Yes,” Harry nodded once, refraining from saying ‘yeah’ since Corvus didn’t like that much.

“And how was it?” Corvus questioned, staring intently.

Harry’s brow furrowed, “It still isn’t as easy as it used to be,” and by Merlin, that hurt, he’d been doing so well. To have been set back so thoroughly because of one day made him considerably angry and upset.

“You’ll get there,” Corvus reassured him, he could see how angry he was at Dumbledore. He was too, especially when it became clear the consequences of that stunt. Millicent had warned them, but Corvus nor Harry for that matter actually believed it until they were having to live with them.

“I know,” he did, he just didn’t like the set back or the pain for that matter that came with Dumbledore’s actions. How much more would he be recovered if he had just left well enough alone?

It was just unfair, Corvus thought, reckoning that’s exactly what Harry was thinking. “I’m afraid Dumbledore pled guilty which means…”

“He isn’t questioned, right?” Harry said more of a guess than any actual real understanding of the magical law. He was slowly trudging through it, but that didn’t mean he knew the steps the magical world took during and after a trial proceeds.

“Don’t interrupt,” Corvus said, his tone holding only miniscule reprimand for Harry’s interruption. “You are, however, quite correct, there is no questioning someone who has pled guilty. Something I did not foresee when I made the plans. Which means that not even half of what Dumbledore had done has come to light. Lucius did let ‘slip’ information about the Troll though, so there will be an investigation into that,”

“So he’s still at Hogwarts,” Harry murmured, not sure how he felt about it. “I would have preferred him gone,” at least that way he wouldn’t have to endure Dumbledore’s endless ‘disappointed’ looks, the conversations he tries to insist on and the intrusion Dumbledore constantly makes into his life. Plus, at least in Azkaban he would have had time to relax at Hogwarts…apparently it wasn’t meant to be.

“Wouldn’t we all,” Corvus admitted darkly, still furious over this damn outcome. Breathing deeply, there was no point to worrying, what was done was done. “Now, are you dressed for a trip to Gringotts?” he couldn’t see what Harry was dressed in, as covered as he was with the throw.

“I am,” Harry reassured him, swiftly standing, folding the throw and placing it neatly on the couch he’d been sitting in moments prior.

Corvus automatically shot a spell at him, unceasing the clothes with nod of approval.

“Then let’s depart,” Corvus said easily, standing as well, they might as well go while Harry’s pain was at a minimum due to his potions, which he had just taken not even half an hour ago according to the schedule.

It didn’t take them all that long to vacate Lestrange Manor, a mere ten minutes. Harry was able to walk quicker when unhindered by pain. Once at the edge of the wards, Corvus used a spell on both of them to prevent anyone paying any sort of attention to them. The goblins would know of course, they weren’t bothered by wizard magic. They could see through the measly charms where other wizards and witches could not.

“Ready?” Corvus asked after they’d apparated directly to Gringotts, the marble steps looming closely.

“Yes,” Harry murmured softly, he would do anything, anything to stop himself ending up in Dumbledore’s hold. More so than just a few months ago, because he knew what Dumbledore was like and what he was capable of. With that, both began to walk up the steps towards the tellers, it was time for him to get his second Lordship sorted.

Corvus’ hand tightened on Harry’s shoulder, when he saw that Dumbledore was in Gringotts. He listened to Dumbledore conversing quietly with goblin, using a spell to eavesdrop as they approached the teller. His eyes gleamed when he realized what the old fool was up to. “We would like to speak to Terex, and I believe, you should lessen the amount for those products, Dumbledore will accept what you desire, I’m afraid he’s found himself in recipient of a rather large fine,” Corvus said vindictively, any way he could make Dumbledore’s life more difficult was fine by him.

The goblin stared blankly for the barest of moments, before a wicked and vicious grin plastered across it’s face. He then gave a nod, before barking in gobbledegook in the general direction of Dumbledore and the goblin overseeing the current haggling with Dumbledore. It’s face didn’t change, but the eyes…well it took on its own wicked gleam.

Dumbledore definitely wouldn’t win with them.

“This way, follow me,” the teller insisted, stepping off its stool before making its way towards Terex’s office. He knew they had an appointment, there was a book on the teller platform that let them know of all appointments for the day and with which goblin. They kept a thorough record of everything, even appointments.

“Thank you, may your gold ever flow,” Harry said kindly before slipping inside, becoming aware of the rites and customs that was heavily practiced within Gringotts. Corvus merely nodded before closing the door giving them privacy to speak to Terex, he wasn’t comfortable taking any chances with Dumbledore in the building, thus, silencing charms imbued in the offices would protect them.

“Heir Potter, Lord Lestrange,” Terex said in greeting, not surprised to see them, but surprised that they were getting in touch so soon. “How may I help you today?”

“Harry wishes to claim the Black Estate,” Corvus explained as he sat down, Harry did so moments afterwards.

Terex frowned, “Has something happened?” he asked shrewdly.

“Black looks to be innocent and Dumbledore’s trying to get him out of Azkaban,” Harry said his lips curled in anger. “We all know how that would go,”

Corvus leaned back, allowing Harry to deal with it as he saw fit. He had a comradery with the goblins that one didn’t usually see. He could clearly see that Terex was worried something had happened and goblins didn’t normally care for wizards. No, Terex and Griphook had gone over the top in order to protect Harry and his assets.

Terex bared his teeth infuriated, it was just like Dumbledore to mess with plans of course. Still, he was right to desire to claim the Black fortune, it would give him an immense amount of power, power that wizards and witches wouldn’t want to antagonise. It would give him the best chance of getting what he wanted without being fought on it. Especially since it’s well known that people couldn’t touch the Black fortune, not even a guardian. The Black’s didn’t get to where they were by not being careful. “Give me a moment,” and with that Terex began to gather the necessary essential’s to pass over the Black fortune from the Orion Black to Harry Potter. Despite Orion’s wife Walburga outliving him, she had not been the head of the family, regardless of her status. “Help yourself,” and with that a cart filled with an assortment of food and drinks were there in front of him.

“Go ahead,” Corvus urged, as always, encouraging Harry to eat in order to keep him fit and healthy. He didn’t eat anywhere near enough for his peace of mind, but it was eight meals a day spread out, so perhaps if one put it altogether it was a lot, but he couldn’t wait until the day where Harry was giving the all clear.

Harry placed some sandwiches and a few biscuits onto his late, and began to eat, more in order to please Corvus and make him happy than any hunger. Corvus helped himself to a coffee, making sure it wasn’t poisoned of course, out of sheer habit, the goblin didn’t even twitch at that. “Hogwarts starts back up tomorrow doesn’t it